Review: Fierce (Criminal Girlfriends)

Photo of Marisa Crockett and EmmeliaCriminal Girlfriends present Canadian playwright George F. Walker’s play Fierce in Toronto

Fierce is a new play written by Canadian playwright, George F. Walker, about the tug-o-war relationship between therapist and patient.

Jayne (Emmelia Gordon), a heroine addict in the heat of a trial concerning her near-suicide attempt meets Maggie, (Marisa Crockett) a tightly-wound therapist, gung-ho on healing Jayne’s past trauma. The script flips in both of their favour as the two women verbally duke it out in an attempt to understand each other on a deeper level.

Fierce’s set is nestled in Red Sandcastle Theatre’s cozy, storefront abode. The actors are no more than a couple metres away from us and though the space is absolutely charming, Crockett and Gordon’s performance definitely warrants a bigger space. Their energy and strength of emotion is just way too powerful to be contained to a 15×10 foot stage, and that’s a good thing. My fingers are crossed for a remount on a full proscenium.

Fierce is simple in concept, yet plays out like an intricate game of checkers. Though the therapist-patient relationship is nothing new, Fierce’s version of this dynamic feels fresh to me. Gordon’s portrayal of grungy, loud-mouthed Jayne is perfectly imperfect. There’s a fire in her that is apparent even when she is dead still. Crockett as Maggie, the therapist with a secret, has a stiffness and guardedness to her that you would surely find in any adult who used to live in a foster home. The relationship between these two women is almost uncomfortably real. I really feel like a fly on the wall; eavesdropping on the most interesting therapy session in the world.

The story really grabs me, I can’t believe it’s all being played out in a single therapy session. Walker managed to turn a simple conversation between two people into a complex narrative full of interesting twists and unexpected turns.

As I look in my peripherals, I can see every single person in the audience, leaning slightly forward in their chairs, still as statues. The performance simply demands our attention. The pace is quick, smooth and unapologetic like a train barreling down the tracks, stopping for no one. The audience didn’t want to look away, they couldn’t look away.

The story is full of surprises that just seem to build up more and more as the play goes on. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but when that final twist hit me, there was a sizeable lump in my throat and maybe even one or two tears, but who’s counting?

Fierce has a lot of guts and I don’t say that lightly. If you’re looking for a “polite” Canadian play, turn the other way. Fierce gets right down to business packing a powerful, heart-wrenching punch.


  • Fierce is playing at the Red Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen St. E) until March 3, 2018.
  • Shows run Monday to Sunday at 8 pm with a Sunday matinee at 3pm on February 25th and NO show on Monday, February 26th.
  • Tickets are $25 ($15 for 25 and under, $20 for seniors and $35 for Happy-to-pay-more) and are available online or in person at the Red Sandcastle Theatre box office before the show.
  • This venue is accessible.

Photo of Marisa Crockett and Emmelia Gordon provided by John Gundy.