Review: The Big ‘What Now?’ (Everything But the Kitchens Inc.)

The Big ‘What Now’? is a compelling one-woman show about life after 50, on Toronto stages

I laughed so hard that I cried at The Big ‘What Now?’ by Sandra Shamas. Playing at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, this one-woman show about life after 50 had us all in stitches the entire evening.

Shamas took us along her journey up the steep “Menopause Mountain,” giving me a lot to look forward to. Now I can’t wait to reach this milestone. While steady body temperatures, ability to remember, and one-sided friendships may become lost during this treacherous physical transition, it appears that menopause can also reawaken one’s capacity for anger and the need to question societal expectations of women over 50.

Shamas’ articulate display of attitude, which came to life via anecdotes of everyday life, made someone on my right snort several times, while someone in the upper balcony could not stop whooping. Her humour was intensely appreciated. Shamas cleverly wrapped up her jokes and tied them up with a bow by going through examples of how she is a late bloomer. One of my favourite parts was about her swimming lessons for adult beginners. While we heartily amused ourselves by looking at her first bubble-blowing lesson, we became impressed by her eventual ability to swim the length of the pool.

Another highlight was her account of her Tinder communications. She was killing us with her exchanges. I’ll never forget her response to “sup?”

Shamas’ self-reliance is a constant theme of The Big ‘What Now?’ Whether Shamas is getting through an 8-day power outage during the ice storm of 2013, or having a septic tank challenge requiring her dig and trench, she truly holds her own.

What’s more, she makes no apologies for being unmarried and childless, and she makes fun of people who think marriage, parenthood and the “Grandma train” are the only path to fulfillment.

You deserve to see The Big ‘What Now?’ I will definitely see Shamas’ work in the future. I feel that Toronto is lucky to have someone raise the red flag when we women limit ourselves and accept societal norms as fixed. Leaving the show, I felt a buzz of empowerment and awakening, along with a slight cramp due to sustained laughter.


  • The Big ‘What Now?‘ is playing at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Queens Quay Terminal Building (third floor), Harbourfront Centre (207 Queens Quay West)
  • Playing until February 16 by popular demand; please note there are no performances of The Big ‘What Now?’ February 6-14)
  • Showtimes are Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
  • Tickets are $45 & $55 and can be purchased by calling 416-973-4000 or online at

Photo credit: Photo of Sandra Shamas by Mark Jewusiak

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