Review: Dead Metaphor (Mirvish)

Dead Metaphor at the Panasonic Theatre

Dead Metaphor Nails It; Playing Now at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre

Dead Metaphor, written and directed by George F. Walker, is the final show in the current Off Mirvish series. It opened last night at the Panasonic Theatre.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing it and my anticipation was heightened by a reminder email from Mirvish that contained the best warning about strong language that I’ve ever seen.

“Seriously, folks, this show has some of the filthiest and most wonderful language you will ever hear in a public space. More than just “F” words, there are words beginning with almost every letter of the alphabet, used by the characters in the show, because this is exactly how these characters would speak. But trust us; you’ll love it. It’s quite liberating.”

I spent the day trying to match letters and words. The language is strong but there wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before – or used before. Still, you probably don’t want to take your 11 year-old to see it.

Dean (Noah Reid) comes back from Afghanistan and tries to fit back into life in Canada. He’s a skilled sniper, a hero, about to marry his pregnant ex-wife and he needs a job. He joined the military to learn a trade but sniper skills aren’t in high demand.

He and his wife Jenny (Haley McGee) are living with his parents, Frannie (Nancy Beatty) and Hank (Eric Peterson) who is dying. Frannie is trying to figure out how she’s going to be able to afford the care that Hank is going to need.

Dean meets Oliver (Michael Healy), a government counsellor who helps returning veterans find jobs. Oliver manages to convince his wife Helen (Julie Stewart), an ultra right-wing politician, to hire Dean as her personal assistant. Dean witnesses a church leader making a large cash donation to Helen’s election campaign and quits.

He receives three very lucrative job offers. Will he accept one of them? Which one?

It sounds like the outline of a dark and heart-breaking drama, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s not. Dead Metaphor is a wildly funny satirical play about serious topics. I love plays that make me laugh and leave me thinking. Walker has written and directed a terrific play.

The cast is terrific. Hank has lost his social filters and says whatever outrageous thing pops into his head. Sometimes he’s bemused, often confused, concerned about his family, and angry. Peterson nails the mix.

All of the actors nailed it.

I liked the set. The main part of the stage was a suburban backyard complete with barbecue. It also served as a church and an attic. Towards the front, on one side there was a restaurant table and two chairs and on the other side, the kind of low table that you see in offices and two chairs. I was only aware of the part of the stage where the action was, I wasn’t distracted by the other parts, a tribute to Shawn Kerwin’s set and Rebecca Picherack’s lighting.

The play was almost a series of connected vignettes with the stage going dark in between each one. It was a very effective way to handle the transitions.

I loved Dead Metaphor. I highly recommend it.

 Details:

  • Dead Metaphor is playing at the Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge St) until June 8th
  • Performance times: Tuesday through Friday at 8 pm, Saturday 2 pm and 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm and 7 pm
  • Ticket prices range from $19.00 to $79.00
  • Tickets are available online, by phone at (416) 872-1212 or in person at the box office

Photo of Nancy Beatty, Noah Reid, Eric Peterson and Haley McGee by Cylla von Tiedemann