Review: The Clockmaker (Tarragon Theatre)

By Adelina Fabiano

Timeless play ticks its way to a Toronto Stage

The Clockmaker, written by fellow Calgarian Steven Massicotte, is indeed an intelligent, profound and original piece of work. Centering on the themes of love and friendship, time and memory, and of course, the afterlife, this script was certainly a good start to Tarragon Theatre’s 40th season.

As I silently watched the plot unfold, the one act play, 95 minutes long with no intermission, kept me enthralled for the entire duration. The superb acting, lighting effects, set design, and riveting storyline seemed to freeze us all in a moment of time…a time worth remembering.

The play opens with the neurotic, feeble and gentle clockmaker, Heinrich Mann, interrogated by a mysterious and authoritative character known to us as Monsieur Pierre. We soon learn, as the play shifts from one moment in time to another, that Frieda, a victim of abuse, has desperately brought a broken clock into Heinrich’s shop for quick repair.

Heinrich becomes immediately drawn in, obsessed and in love with Frieda. Frieda, in turn, searches for a way out of the abuse, wishing that her love with her abusive husband Adolphus could be what it once was when they first met.

Phenomenal acting from the start, all four characters do outstanding work in creating strong multi-dimensional characters. Christian Goutsis, portrays a nervous, confused and engaging Heinrich Mann who pulls at your heartstrings. His energy was an interesting rhythmic contrast to his love interest Frieda.

Claire Calnan, in the role of docile, fragile and weak, Frieda, creates a character we may have all seen or known: physically and emotionally abused, bound only to return to the relationship time and time again.

Secondary players, such as Damien Atkins as the strange and manipulative Monsieur Pierre, with his alluring voice and play on words, attempts to convince Heinrich he is indeed guilty of some crime. He forces him to question his conscience.

Kevin Bundy, playing the role of Adolphus, Freida’s abusive husband, was bone chilling, gutsy and real. The scene between Frieda and Adolphus, as uncomfortable as it may have felt to the audience was painful and heart-wrenching to watch, but didn’t fall short from reality.

Lighting effects created by Rebecca Picherack were at times as ghostly as the journey of the play. The gigantic, illuminated clock, representing that “time belongs to the people”, was a powerful light effect.

The set design, although simple, was cleverly manipulated between three different scene changes: the interrogation table, the clockmaker table, and the kitchen table at Freida’s home. The metal table with two chairs were  not only set pieces but became prop pieces easy to manoeuvre.

My guest absolutely loved the play. He was drawn to the concept of the afterlife explored near the end, which he found interesting and humorous. At one point, the interrogator equates having no memory to as state of peace, leaving us with some thoughts to further ponder.

As purposeful and finely crafted as the clock itself, Steven Massicotte`s script and Bob White`s direction and vision  combine to produce an exquisite piece of theatre that will resonate with us for as long as we choose to remember.


-The Clockmaker runs from September 14, 2010 through October 24, 2010, Wednesday through Sunday at 8pm with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30pm.

-Performances take place in the Mainspace at Tarragon Theatre located at 30 Bridgman Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 1X3.

-Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Box office at 416-531-1827.

Photograph of  Christian Goutsis and Claire Calnan taken by Cylla Von Tiedeman