Sia (Pyretic Productions) 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By George Perry

Brendan McMurtry-Holett, Thomas Antony Olajide and Jajube Mandiela Sia is the story about a young student who travels to West Africa to do volunteer work.  It’s playing at St.Vladimir’s Theatre on Spadina during Fringe.

The venue is old and certainly nothing fancy.  It reminded me of being in a church auditorium.  This is quite fitting, because this play involves much soul searching.  It is very emotional and many people left with damp eyes.  At times the performance was as powerful as a religious experience.

Sia combines the birth and uncertainty of a new “friendship” of two men.  It’s actually a hostage situation, but there are undertones of a friendship.

Brendan McMurty-Howlett plays the Nick volunteer and Thomas Antony Olajide plays Abraham.  Olajide is particularly powerful.  His acting is especially convincing and his presence exceptional.  He holds a 2nd degree Black Belt, which pays huge dividends in terms of his confidence and non verbal communication.

Playwright Matthew MacKenzie interviewed nearly 100 Liberian refugees in Ghana preparing for this work.  The authenticity of emotion really shines through as a result.  MacKenzie, Olajide and others involved in the production are graduates of The National Theatre School in Montreal.  This school seems to be doing things right!

Abraham’s main objective is taking care of Sia, his sister.  He took matters into his own hands.  Then he takes things out on Nick’s hands.

Sia is played by Jajube Mandiela.  She battles on despite her suffering.  Both men have the same objectives.  Being Sia’s older brother makes this more personal for Abraham.  Being from different worlds and being angered and confused by the civil unrest makes their goal hard to achieve.

All three characters are as convincing and believable as the actors.

Sia is playing at  St. Vladimir’s Theatre
60 min.
Thu, July 1 8:15 PM – 805
Sat, July 3 9:45 PM – 818
Sun, July 4 1:45 PM – 821
Tue, July 6 10:45 PM – 838
Wed, July 7 2:30 PM – 840
Thu, July 8 3:30 PM – 848
Sat, July 10 3:30 PM – 862

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only), Online at, by Phone at 416-966-1062, in person (June 30 – July 11 only) at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee), and $5 for FringeKids (no convenience fee for kids tickets).
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows