Nerves (Failed Poet Theatre) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

photo of Brianna Love and Trish O’Reilly-Brennan in Nerves

 Nerves, presented by Failed Poet Theatre, is a play rich with three-dimensional characters, tight scene changes, and genuine emotional depth. It is currently playing at Streetcar Crowsnest Scotiabank Studio as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.

Written and led by Brianna Love, Nerves is a touching tale of complex emotional stressors that result from Alex (Love), a young professional, unexpectedly becoming the primary caregiver of her disabled mother, Cheryl (Trish O’Reilly-Brennan). The ideas and themes portrayed are well written and articulated, with enough emotional oomph supporting them to grab hold of you and keep your eyes glued for the show’s 45-minute duration.

The foundation of Nerves is its thoroughly interesting story, and it is bolstered by a capable cast with forceful chemistry. From Alex’s struggle balancing her work/life/caregiving with her witty, caring, but terrified boyfriend Mike (René Escobar Jr.), to her struggles to find a new balance living with her mother, this show makes deep, deserving emotional cuts. But it isn’t all doom and gloom: this show has a strong funny bone.

Finding the balance between the more humorous moments of the show – like when Cheryl encourages Alex to be young and adventurous and find men to hook up with – contrasted with darker, challenging subject matter – explosive arguments over Alex’s deceased grandfather – is where the cast really shines. The relationships in this show are three-dimensional and completely believable, which makes it delightful to watch – especially in the rare moment all three characters interact in the same space. These are characters that know each other, so every prod that Cheryl makes at Alex’s love life, and all the teases from Mike to Alex feel honest. That said, a few jokes missed their mark – particularly toward the beginning of the show.

I was absolutely left wanting more. Nerves is a short, solid, well-written show with a skilled cast and complex themes. It is a riveting tale of love, fear, and independence, and it is playing until Sunday, July 14th.


  • Nerves plays at the Streetcar Crowsnest Studio. (345 Carlaw Ave.)
  • Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.


  • Thursday July 4th, 8:30 pm
  • Saturday July 6th, 5:00 pm
  • Sunday July 7th, 1:30 pm
  • Tuesday July 9th, 9:45 pm
  • Wednesday July 10th, 7:30 pm
  • Friday July 12th, 9:30 pm
  • Sunday July 14th, 6:00 pm

Photo provided by company.