Review: The Swan Song: A Study in Terror (The NAGs Players)

The Swan SongThe Swan Song  is a “charming” and “marvelous” whodunnit on stage at the Tranzac in Toronto

The Swan Song: A Study in Terror is a charming whodunnit. Playing at the Tranzac Stage in Toronto, this murder mystery will tickle your funny bone and keep you on your toes — once you think you’re sure of whom the killer is, something will occur that places the potential guilt on someone else.

The murder victims: ultra-wealthy Jacob and Miranda Hebdon. They have perished in a mysterious car accident, and a witness claims to have seen one person leave the fiery scene on foot. The couple’s daughter Olivia (Parveen Kaur) is in a daze, and her personnel is worried about her state of mind. Her fiancé Miles (Norman Hussey) tries to provide comfort and is suspicious of the influence of Olivia’s entourage. He is tired of their “mystic mumbo-jumbo.”

The Swan Song

Olivia has many household guardian angels. Her nervous housekeeper Emma (Gloria Baldwin), her secretary Aletha (Alanna Macaulay), her family lawyer Gary (Brian Russell), and her brandy-loving auntie Lolinda (Lynda May). There is also one stranger who plays a great role in the unravelling of the mystery: Rhamat Singh (Ketan Chhatwani).

This last person is the stand-out character in the play in my personal opinion. Rhamat is an out-of-this-world, obnoxious visitor with special powers. He is the one who insists that there is a “pathway” to be opened in order for Olivia to communicate with her dead mother. Kudos to Chhatwani for his exaggerated gestures that added lots of comedy. While we groaned at his pompous body language, we also found him endearing.

The Swan Song

The stuffy old-fashioned living room in the Hebdon manor put us in the correct mood for a murder mystery. It was as if we were planted right in the middle of a detective novel. The perfectly chosen chandelier received lots of our attention since it ended up being part of a supernatural channel of communication. The other important retro piece was the record player. The music on the phonograph also had special mermerizing powers. In short, the seemingly simple, out-dated living room had delightfully meaningful pieces.

The Swan Song was one of the most welcoming theatre experiences I’ve had all year. From the smiling ticket sellers and friendly bartender to the cool game of “name that tune” that had us collaborating with neighbours, The NAGs Players put so much effort into developing our potential for a good time. We could not only buy drinks, but we also had small tables to place them on. Wonderfully performed play, great hospitality, lots of good cheer — what more could I ask?

While The Swan Song lacked some of the finesse we see in bigger-budget grand productions by established theatre professionals, it did not fail to impress, entertain and make us feel at home. I’ve never felt so compelled to buy 50-50 tickets to support this team’s projects.

In sum, go see this marvelous whodunnit before November 12, and gather up all the clues you can. Apparently there are multiple endings. Once the run is over, I’d like someone to report back on their own guilty party.


  • The Swan Song plays at the Tranzac Stage (292 Brunswick Ave) close to Spadina or Bathurst subway.
  • Next showtimes: November 10, 11 and 12, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
  • There is a 15-minute intermission.
  • Audience Advisory: There is a flickering “firelight” through much of the show as well as brief strobe flashes.

Photo 1 by Andrea Smith: Brian Russell, Alanna Macaulay, Lynda May

Photo 2 by Andrea Smith: Parveen Kaur, Norman Hussey

Photo 3 by Andrea Smith: Ketan Chhatwani

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