Review: Little Gem (Toronto Irish Players)

Little Gem is “wonderful” and “real” slice-of-life theatre playing in Toronto

Rebecca De La Cour, Barbara Taylor, and Billie Jean Shannon forming a verticle line.

I’m sitting down to write this review and all I have are the many wonderful moments that are still swirling around in my head after seeing Toronto Irish Players‘ production of Little Gem.

The play is a series of monologues where three women from the same family talk about the year that’s going on in their lives. There is Amber (Billie Jean Shannon) the 19-year-old who is busy being young. Her mother Lorraine (Rebecca De La Cour) who is busy having her own personal breakdown, and finally the grandmother of the house Kay (Barbara Taylor). Each character tells their story with a lots of laughs, a few tears, and quite a few tender moments between them.

That’s always the tricky thing with any kind of ‘slice of life’ stories, they have to show real people having good moments and bad. This production of Little Gem does it perfectly. I feel each actor does a fantastic job of making their characters actual people who have that range of feelings and are able to make me feel what the characters are going through on the stage.

Shannon’s role of Amber starts out as the self centered teenager, who is focused on having a good time, partying, and trying to get the attention of her boyfriend. At the end of the play she’s become a slightly more responsible version of herself dealing with her pregnancy and the birth of her child.

My personal favourite is De La Cour’s Lorraine as the parent who has been pushing so hard to gain some semblance of control in her life.  She does it through her work, and and her intense desire to keep her spaces as clean as possible. This is the character that I relate to the most, which may be a function of my age since my kids are that old and I have felt those feelings. De La Cour does a great job of making Lorraine feel real to me. Her issues and concerns and meltdowns are ones I have felt or have experienced from time to time when the stress of everything has just become overwhelming.

Barbara Taylor’s Kay seems to be the audience favourite, and rightfully so. If there’s a line that made me laugh, or a scene that pulled tears out of me, that line belonged the Taylor. She delivers everything with a very no-nonsense, straight forward style that hit me hard with every word be it funny or heart-wrenchingly sad.

These three women carry the show without a lot of extras to distract. On the stage, it’s just them on the stage with three chairs, their words and their feelings. They talk about their lives, and how the men in the illustrations hanging behind them impact and influence their lives, but ultimately it is all about them, their feelings, their situations, and how they are handling what life is throwing at them. Shannon, De La Cour, and Taylor have invited me in and showed me what’s going on in the lives of their characters.

I can’t recommend going to see Little Gem enough. I left the theatre with tears in my eyes and laughter on my lips and that’s exactly how I should have left.


  • Little Gem is playing at The Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley Street) until March 3, 2018.
  • Shows run Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 pm with a 2:00 pm matinee on Sundays.
  • Tickets are $25 for general admission and $23 for students
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by calling the box office at 416- 440 – 2888, or in person at the box office.

Photo of Rebecca De La Cour, Barbara Taylor and Billie Jean Shannon