The Trolley Car (Solo Collective Theatre) 2011 SummerWorks Review

Solo Theatre Collective brings us a titillatingly dark period piece set in German-occupied Paris: The Trolley Car by Amiel Gladstone. Performed with exquisite depth by Monica Dottor, Rosa Laborde, Matthew Tapscott, the premise takes a dark, philosophical problem and applies it to an evocatively nostalgic love triangle, as indicated in bashful silence by our main protagonist by pressing her index fingers and thumbs together to form the shape.

The question of The Trolley Car is one of choice: given one track with five people tied to it, and a split in it where only one person is tied, a speeding trolley car heads towards the five people. Do you shift its gears so it only kills one, or do you choose to remain uninvolved and let it kill the five?

Even not making a choice is a choice.

Using vibrant blocking which keeps three characters onstage at all times director Ruth Madoc-Jones unravels the story of Florence, the Butcher’s wife, her husband, and his mysterious cousin Inez who comes to live with them. Pieces of the story are repeated when Florence, our narrator, calls “Encore!” The repetition works wonders to heighten the drama while keeping the viewer just distanced enough to feel the irony in the characters’ plights.

Running in at only about 45 minutes, this is a well-focused and written work, with a lot of varied emotional levels with which the three actors ably grapple. The narrative gives them a lot of opportunity for their characters to grow, and how wonderfully they do in so short a running time.

The Trolley Car is a very tight and polished production, just spooky enough to  make it a must-see.


– The Trolley Car is playing at the Factory Theatre Studio, 125 Bathurst St, on:

Wednesday August 10th, 5:30 pm

Saturday, August 13th, 12:30 pm

Sunday, August 14th, 10:00 pm

– All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, by phone at 416.504.7529, in person at at the Arts Box Office (located at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., One block North East of Bathurst & Queen W. M-F 12PM-7PM, Weekends 10AM-8PM) (Advance tickets are $15 +HST and $1 service fee)

– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows

Photo by Lindsay Anne Black.

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