Review: in 40 years (Bobby Del Rio)

Bobby Del Rio presents his new movement-based theatre piece based on original love poetry at Toronto’s Sterling Studio Theatre.

Bobby Del Rio is a Toronto-based actor, producer and playwright. His latest project, in 40 years, is a hybrid performance piece that resembles a poetry reading crossed with a dance recital.

Del Rio collaborated with nine talented young artists; Dasha Bosaya, Charlotte Cattell, Michael Demski, Naomi Krajden, Kwame Kyei-Boateng, Chase Lo, Cydney Penner, Roselyn Kelada-Sedra, Miroki Tong, to create a piece that consists of meditations on different aspects of love.

The performance takes place at the new Sterling Studio Theatre; a cozy blackbox style performance space on Sterling Road in Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood. It’s tucked away around the back of the building with its entrance in an alleyway and it took a while for me to find.

As I entered the space, Miroki Tong was already on stage, moving about and feeling out her surroundings as if trying to escape; alternating slow, methodic movements with short powerful bursts, like a martial artist. I was a bit confused at first and thought I may have mistaken the start time for the show. As it turns out, I was watching a pre-show; a meditative way to set the tone for the evening.

The show that followed is a series of vignettes; short scenes of choreography set to a collection of original love poetry. At times the poetry is recited rhythmically with an almost music-like quality at others it is structured more like prose. Various performers couple and uncouple. We witness flirtation, first love, lust, jealousy and heartbreak.

The performers immediately establish a powerful, aggressive movement vocabulary that carries throughout the show. Cast members perform solo, in pairs and trios or as an ensemble at different times and there are several times in the show when they crank the emotional dial all the way to ten.

I found the resultant displays of raw emotion brusque and jarring at times, but not entirely inauthentic. As I watched the performance I found that it brought me back to my late-teens or early-20s when I was still figuring myself out and love was still lived with those big unbridled emotions.

A standout performance for me was a solo by Michael Demski. The young performer has a physicality and presence that fills the stage and his precise, athletic movements contrast with the tender love poem he recites during the piece.

Demski’s passion-filled pas de deux with Roselyn Kelada-Sedra later in the show is another highlight.

I picked up on a few different subtexts like finding love in the information age; now that we’re hyper-connected and forming increasingly superficial relationships are we losing our ability to connect on a deeper level? At other times in the show the dancers evoke zombies and demons alluding to the darker side of love and relationships.

The show is experimental, loosely structured and still rough around the edges. If you’re looking for something more defined and linear it may not be your thing, but if you’re open to something different and seeing some great emerging talent take a chance on in 40 years.

Photo taken by Andy Wright.


  • in 40 years is playing from October 25 – November 4, 2012 at the Sterling Studio Theatre, 163 Sterling Road, Toronto.
  • Shows run Tuesday – Thursday at 8p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8p.m. and 10p.m., Sunday at 2:30p.m. and 8p.m.
  • Tickets $10, PWYC on Sundays. Tickets are available by e-mail: