The Complex: A Toronto Tale – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Winston Soon

The bad news about Jack Grinhouse’s show “The Complex:  a Toronto Tale” is that you will leave knowing that you have just watched the future of Toronto.  The good news is that you will leave knowing that you have just watched the future of theatre in Toronto.

A tale of Four Rooms, wound together in a Robert LePage –esque type of movement piece, “The Complex” sees a stellar cast creating characters bound together by their own paranoia.  With a backdrop of a summer fire on Canada Day – the play winds in and out of present time and uses some truly creative and effective staging to take us in an out of each apartment in the complex.

The overriding theme is one of paranoia and isolation – the same themes that can suffocate those living in a city with very little identity that is truly it’s own.  I have to say it is nice to be in Toronto, watching a show in Toronto, and it is even nicer to watch it happening on the day the play is set.

Aside from the overall choreography of the piece – the performances are what truly move it along.  Lauren Brotman is perfectly believable as the heroin addicted tenant – anchored down in actual rope.  Rob Fulton is exquisite as anti-American conspiracy theorist who – with his sidekick from Barrie – drops in on their more conservative friend in another apartment.

Jerrold Karch plays a older Jewish man, paranoid against his tenants and against spending money on anything other than his stamp collection.  His wife – acted with less capability by Katherine Duncanson, is airy -airy and unable to cope with the dirge of her life.

A particularly interesting set of monologues on multiculturalism in Toronto is delivered in a perfect Toronto/Caribbean lilt by Richard Stewart.  It is a true ensemble piece and it’s a dance – flowing from the paranoia of language, movement, and the fire that brings the isolation of each apartment together.  It is presented as a work in progress, much like this city itself.


– The Complex: A Toronto Tale plays at Walmer Centre Theatre
– There are two remaining shows: Saturday July 10 at 9pm & Sunday July 11 at 5pm
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, by phone at                   416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows