Review: The Atomic Weight of Happiness (Stand Up Dance)

By Adelina Fabiano

Whimsical and wonderful performance piece wins over a Toronto audience

Meagan O’Shea has been sharing and baring her soul with Toronto audiences for quite some time now. This charming, uniquely creative, intelligent solo performer once again engages us in her recent theatre/dance show called The Atomic Weight of Happiness.

Presented by O’Shea’s own company Stand Up Dance at the intimate studio space of Hub 14, The Atomic Weight of Happiness is an hour long narrative in which O’Shea challenges notions on global warming, emotional intelligence and her own inner and outer anatomy.

Melding audience interaction, modern dance, theatre, clever text and cinematic-like art direction, The Atomic Weight of Happiness, offers a memorable and original piece of dance theatre that is definitely worth exploring.

The warm and cosy studio space of Hub 14 holds about 20 people, allowing performers to get up close and personal with us. The opening act, “Dance like no one is watching” includes O’Shea accompanied by two improvising dancers performing spontaneously around the stage, or at least that is the illusion. The choreography appears organic, impulsive, and contemporary – evolving and growing spatially around the stage. It was extremely exciting to watch.

As the main show opens, we are greeting by the lively Meagan O’Shea who begins writing words on a chalkboard. We are then given a piece of script, divided in chapters along with a mini flashlight. Each audience member is responsible for reading a piece of the story when the chime indicates. As we become part of the storytelling, Meagan transforms the words we speak into movement.

The overall art direction by Andrea Donaldson was playful and creative, giving it a filmic feel.  Set designer Lindsay Anne Black provides O’Shea with a place to journey through as she travels from her bicycle powered by a kettle, to her tomato garden, school and finally, her miniature house.  

Sound design by Verne Good as well as overall musical choices were just as dynamic as performer O’Shea herself.

Lighting design by Michelle Ramsay was imaginative and unique, intricately highlighting O’Shea’s animated character as she traveled from mat to mat, symbolizing yet another part of the story.

My guest for the evening loved the overall piece expressing how fresh and fun it was!

Uplifting, energetic and totally out of the ordinary, Meagan O’Shea creates a highly amusing and unconventional theatre/dance performance that is bound to intrigue.

You may even feel the urge to buy your neighbour a drink after the show!


The Atomic Weight of Happiness  is playing at Hub 14, 14 Markham Street, on the main floor from April 29th to May 29th, 2011.

-The show runs Friday through Sundays at 8pm with the following opening acts:

May 6-May 8th (dance like no one is watching)

May 13-May 15th (Claudia Moore)

May 20-May 22nd (Adam Lazarus)

May 27th-May 29th (Lindsay Zier-Vogel)

-Tickets range from $25/$20 plus limited number of $10/$15 tickets available. Reservations may be required as the space is small (416-504-6429 x18)

-For more information please visit

Photograph of Meagan O’Shea taken by Omer Yukseker