Tachycardia (Dysrhythmia Theatre) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Artists take a major risk when they set out to make theater about love. In this respect, I give major kudos to Dysrhythmia Theatre for Tachycardia at the Toronto Fringe Festival – Fringe is for risk, and not enough artists dive from the limb. The problem with making theatre about love is that every heart in the audience knows how the story should be told. Mine is no different, I make that clear from the start.

‘Tachycardia’ is a blood and guts way of saying heartache; writer/director Rebecca Gismondi’s definition is “When the heart is ripped and the mind is torn.” Another definition would be “Breakup.” Love and breakups: prime drama territory, yet such a minefield for theatre. The potential for cliché, the gravitational pull toward melodrama spike the ground.

Tachycardia’s flaws lay in both those pitfalls. Yes, anyone who has loved has lived cliché and melodrama – it’s just that art is supposed to tell us something we didn’t already know about it, and in this respect even the pretty good writing of the show fell short of the mark.

Furthermore, representational theatre such as this requires high production values and performers capable of embodying archetypes. With two notable exceptions, Tachycardia had neither. Nadine Bhabha understood her role as the woman scorned and delivered it with bright, relatable energy. Nadya Khoja’s sound design was brilliant and I wished that she had been able to characterize and give voice to the Woman in Red as well as the characters Habit and Need, because I think she would have elevated them and the show. As to the production values – well, this is Fringe, I can’t blame Dysrhythmia for that. Maybe for the bendy plastic knife that figured so heavily, though.

Dysrhythmia defines itself as a “company that aims to create original works inspired by the powerful connection between the mind and body.” This is clear in the title, in the gore, in the subject of the piece. Sadly the performers languished in a half-dance half-theatre netherworld as they tried to connect the bodies on stage to the huge ideas of the show. 

All that said, the bones of this work seem strong in idea and effort if not quite yet in execution. Anyone who’s never failed has never tried. Tachycardia is a solid try, and I look forward to the next attempt by this company of risk takers brave enough to take on love, and the desperate pain of heartache.


Tachycardia plays at the Tarragon Main. (30 Bridgman Ave.)

show times

July 08 at 05:15 PM
July 10 at 09:45 PM
July 11 at 07:00 PM
July 12 at 02:15 PM

Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), 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 if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.

LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

Photo provided by company