Pretty Little Instincts (Renegade Outdoor Theatre) 2011 Summerworks Review

I watched Pretty Little Instincts last night under a tent at the Fort York National Historic Site in pouring rain while being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I was not in a good mood to say the least, but having said that I’m quite positive that this wasn’t the reason that I didn’t like this show.

The “stage” is just a low coffee table with nine chairs spread out in a semi-circle. Nine women painted an eerie chalk white and wearing identical long black dresses with matching hair pieces come running through and start serving the audience tea and cookies. They are creepy. Think Stepford Wives meet vampire zombies. 

They then move on to the chairs where all of them sit as two women go around filling their teacups. This happens over and over again for almost an hour. There is no dialogue in this 75 minute piece, just background music. Every time the music changes they seem possessed, throw the tea out of their cups, sometimes run around in a circle, and then sit back down and the tea ceremony continues.

I understand that they’re supposed to be women who don’t have any original thoughts, trapped in a society that doesn’t allow them to be individuals, so they all seem to be clones, but again it made me feel like I was watching paint dry for over an hour.

There is some slow, graceful movement in the piece but I found that highly repetitive as well. I really tried to appreciate the abstract nature of the show but, honestly, I was bored stiff.

This play is part of the National Series at SummerWorks and came all the way from Victoria, B.C. The program describes it as “high society tea crumbles into a display of primal instincts as nine women, painted an eerie chalk white, unravel their raw intuition.”

I have to say the actors stayed in character really well considering that by the end of the show they were naked, wet and cold.

This show was clearly not for me but you should know that couple of other audience members seemed to have enjoyed it and even handed in their tickets for the audience choice award.

My show partner even said, “I’m not sure I got it, but the movements were beautiful and I think I would have enjoyed it more if  wasn’t so repetitive.” So there you have it and who knows you may like it.


Pretty Little Instincts plays the the Fort York National Historic Site


Friday August 5th 8:30 PM
Saturday August 6th 10:00 PM
Sunday August 7th 8:30 PM
Monday August 8th 8:30 PM
Tuesday August 9th 8:30 PM
Wednesday August 10th 10:00 PM
Saturday August 13th 9:30 PM

Photo credit to Andrew Lint. In photo: Sarah Jane Pelzer