Assassinating Thomson (Monster Theatre) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review


I was REALLY excited to see Assassinating Thomson by Bruce Horak. It’s a show about an iconic painter by a legally blind man. Horak bills himself as a blind mind, doing a one man show about Canada’s most celebrated painter. Well that’s cool.

Who doesn’t love those Group of Seven paintings? They’re so ridiculous and clichéd. People look at them and think “yeah, it must be great to ski in July. Canada is a great country.”

Unfortunately I got to the venue a mess, so I wasn’t in the best of moods. I paused as I entered the lobby at St Vlad’s. Then I got a grip.

For those who don’t know, there is a lot of controversy around the death of Tom Thompson. Many theories, no certainties. And that’s what this play is about. Horack tells a lot of conspiracy theories about the death of Tom Thomson. It’s like watching TMZ. Lots of people find that fun, but I don’t.

While he does this, Horak, who has 9% of his vision, paints of a ‘portrait’ of the audience. It is part of a series of paintings Horak has done over the last two years called “The Way I See It”. Apparently he’s done over 400 of these.

I’d much rather hear about art, why Thomson’s work mattered, if indeed it did, and the Group of Seven. Why a blind man is so enamoured with painting is absolutely enticing. Why Horak barely touches on this is anyone’s guess.

This play seemed like a gimmick to me and I left disappointed.


Performances are:

July 08 10:30 PM
July 09 08:30 PM
July 10 12:15 PM
July 12 4:00 PM
July 13 10:30 PM


  • Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
  • Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
  • Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
  • LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

5 thoughts on “Assassinating Thomson (Monster Theatre) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. Mr. Mooney – you are the prime example of what is wrong with reviewers. Maybe you should have waited until you were not “a mess” before seeing this show. Obviously, you didn’t “get it” – but, that’s your problem. Your words were spiteful and hurtful -shame on you. And, yes, you should recognize the last name – I am Bruce’s mother. I am very proud of him and of all that he has accomplished.

  2. Ms Horak,

    Thank you for taking the time to write.

    First I just wanted to clarify one thing. The author of this piece is George Perry. He is one of the writers for Mooney on Theatre. The publication has several writers who provide content. (When I started it I thought it was just going to be me, but then it grew and grew, it’s a long story, but now we’re stuck with the name.)

    As for the review, I totally understand that it is frustrating and disappointing to read a negative review. And, although my children are still young, from what I’ve experienced with them so far, I can imagine that it’s way worse when that review talks about something your child created than if it was speaking about something you had created.

    The thing to remember is that it is only one person’s opinion. Interestingly, from reading George’s review I am actually even more intrigued about the show, which was already on my list. I hadn’t realised that there was actual physical painting taking place during the piece. That seems really exciting to me. I know full well that just because someone else doesn’t like something that it doesn’t mean I won’t. I also know (and have certainly experienced) that just because someone else (or even *everyone* else) likes something, it doesn’t mean that I will.

    Any kind of art; written, visual, performance, any of it, is subjective. Some people will like it, some will not.

    George didn’t like this piece, many others did. There will be others out there in this world who will see it and not like it, and others who will fall madly in love with it. Such is the way with art.

    And absolutely you should be proud of your son, he is successful at doing something he loves, what more could we ever wish for our children?

    But as for the review, I think perhaps it’s not as terrible a thing as you are feeling it is. Like I said, I’m actually even more excited to see the piece now.


    Megan Mooney
    Founding Editor
    Mooney on Theatre

  3. I’ve been recommending this show to other Fringe go-ers since I saw it on opening night. It’s my favourite of the Fringe this year, and I’ve seen nine shows since I saw Assassinating Thomson.

  4. And, in one of the things I love about theatre…

    I LOVED this show.

    I have a little series that I’m doing this Fringe called Megan Loved and this is the first one I wrote up for it.

    But that’s the thing about art. It’s so subjective. I LOVED it. George didn’t like it. We both saw the same show (well,as much as one can see the same show when you’re watching live theatre).

    It’s why my mandate for the site is that we don’t speak in absolutes. We don’t talk about what is good and what is bad. We talk about what we enjoyed and what we didn’t.

  5. This “review” is utterly ridiculous. To even call it a review is ridiculous. The gist of it is this: “I came to the theatre grumpy. I didn’t like the show. Nyah.” It’s like reading a critique of a piece of art written by a kid with a tooth-ache. And make no mistake – what Bruce Horak has created with this show is a piece of art, on multiple levels. It is compelling, personal, thought-provoking, humorous, joyous and touching. That Mr. Perry didn’t come away from the show experiencing any of these things is purely understandable given that he was having such a bad day before he arrived at the theatre, but his interpretation says a lot more about him than it does the show.

    And that’s not a review.

    A suggestion for you, Mr. Perry – the next time you’re feeling “a mess” before going to a piece of theatre that you are there to “review”, for god sake don’t see it. Go home and read some William Hazlitt instead.

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