It takes an incredibly likeable person to entertain you for an hour straight without getting on your nerves. Luckily, Zabrina Chevannes’ extreme likability, combined with some of the most outrageous anecdotes I have ever heard, renders her one-woman show A Nurse’s Worst Nightmare a more than palatable production at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival.
What is a nurse’s worst nightmare? Is it the moment someone asks you to close the eyes of their deceased uncle and you realize you’ve only ever seen it done on TV? Is it when you realize that your elderly patients are not above being perverts? As Zabrina recounts her life as a nurse, wife and mother, you begin to realize that while she has suffered all of these things…No, not even close.
For all intents and purposes this is a stand up routine in chronological order. Directed by Paul Hutcheson, it is simply Zabrina, some lights and a water bottle. She isn’t afraid to laugh at her own jokes and her occasional fumbles only render her more endearing. You can forgive her sometimes off beat transitions because you are still laughing at her last quip.
As Zabrina moves from her childhood as the daughter of immigrant parents into her life as a wife and mother, her content darkens by degrees. She pauses to take a drink as she comes to the pinnacle of her show: That time her husband had a mental breakdown and joined a cult.
In the wake of Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign, it can be hard to feel okay laughing at mental illness. But as Zabrina rhymes off joke after joke you get the idea that she is not so much laughing at her husband’s situation, as she is the ridiculousness of life.
It’s a refreshing take on a subject that most people wouldn’t dare to broach let alone turn it into a comedy show, and I think with a little polish her performance will be a stand out at this year’s festival.
It turns out a nurse’s worst nightmare has little to do with what goes on inside the hospital and everything to do with being a helpless bystander in an unreal and unresolvable situation.
Sometimes, all you can do is laugh.
- A Nurse’s Worst Nightmare is playing until July 11 at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Ave.)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
Show Times and Dates:
July 01 at 08:15 PM
July 03 at 03:00 PM
July 05 at 02:45 PM
July 06 at 09:15 PM
July 07 at 05:00 PM
July 09 at 02:45 PM
July 10 at 10:30 PM
July 11 at 06:15 PM
Photo provided by the company.