These Violent Delights (Guilty By Association) 2017 Summerworks Review

Memorials surround us every day, depicting tragedy, triumph, famous people, and famous events that are no longer around, asking us to remember and learn. But does the act of Memorial actually achieve the things we claim? With These Violent Delights, Guilty By Association from British Columbia take a hard look at this seemingly benign act and demands we ask ourselves why we really do it.

Using the aftermath of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the play focuses on the Nurse as she struggles with her guilt, shame and anger over the death of Juliet and the efforts of Verona to memorialize the deaths of the Star Crossed Lovers. The cast swap roles constantly, using masks (or the lack thereof) to represent the Nurse and a Greek Chorus that pulls her towards attending the Memorial despite her objections.

The play blends dance, movement, and dialogue into a well choreographed whole, with even the set being used to play into the structure of the piece. One thing I appreciated were the masks. The almost playful nature of the Chorus allowed for seamless corrections when things went wrong. For instance: Instead of panicking when one of the backdrops fell—revealing a masked chorus member behind it—they did some basic clowning and replaced the flat without missing a beat. For all I know this was completely intentional, but it showed how comfortable the performers are in their space.

One thing I feel I do need to bring up is an audio choice for the Nurse; a great deal of the dialogue in the show is done through audio cues with whomever is playing the nurse responding to those cues but at the same time there is a monotone, whispered audio of the Nurse’s lines as well. It became clear that by the end of the play there is a purpose to this within the confines of the narrative, but I did find it a bit hard to hear sometimes when the audio and actor weren’t enough in sync, making some lines unintelligible.

Audio issues aside I really enjoyed These Violent Delights; I love seeing theatre that provides commentary on the status quo or behaviours we take for granted, and this show does both with a real edge, even skewering one of Shakespeare’s most well known plays in the process.


These Violent Delights plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street)

Remaining performances:

  • Sunday August 6th 12:30pm – 1:30pm
  • Monday August 7th 9:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Wednesday August 9th 10:15pm – 11:15pm
  • Thursday August 10th 5:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Friday August 11th 7:15pm – 8:15pm
  • Saturday August 12th 5:00pm – 6:00pm

SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.

photo by Patrick Blenkarn