The Physical Ramifications of Attempted Global Domination (Birdtown and Swanville) 2011 SummerWorks Review

In The Physical Ramifications of Attempted Global Domination, writers Aurora Steward de Peña and Nika Mistruzzi explore some interesting hypothetical questions.

What if some of the most powerful and ruthless despots in the history of the world, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Oliver Cromwell, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Pancho Villa, Pope Pius XII, and Chairman Mao could meet together in a summit? What if they were pitted against each other in a game show-like contest to determine which among them would be named the strongest man who ever lived?

What if then, in the course of challenging each other in this hypothetical pissing match, they discovered they all shared something in common; debilitating physical conditions that came as a result of and ultimately stymied their respective quests for global domination?

The play is part farce, part meditation on the nature of power and the frailty of the human form. In a bit of deliberate irony, these power-hungry men are all played by young women in their early 20s.

As the audience enters the house the actors are already seated on the apron of the stage. They are out of character and bantering casually amongst themselves and with individual audience members. I assume this act is meant to underscore the artifice of the upcoming scenario and accentuate the farce of the performance as we see these average young women channel larger-than-life caricatures during the show.

In a further bit of irony the assembly of this bloodthirsty group of men, collectively responsible for the death of millions, takes place on Allie Marchall and Hanna Pulley’s set of bright, colourful construction-paper podiums. The men also manipulate props made out of party balloons.

Throughout the course of the show the men are put through a series of increasingly absurd competitions as they banter back and forth like stooges, recite factoids about their conquests and engage in philosophical debates that come across like locker room bravado often incorporating “real talk” quotes from each of the men.

Overall I find the script scattered and unfocused and I feel it misses some great opportunities to delve deeper for a more satisfying exploration of its subject matter.

The show doesn’t really make much of a point beyond the initial ironies and after a while it starts to feel like the same joke has gone on for a few beats too long.

Still, the actors provide some genuine laugh-out-loud moments and the show is often delightful in its absurdity.


The Physical Ramifications of Attempted Global Domination by Birdtown and Swanville plays at

Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson Ave.

Written and Directed by Aurora Stewart de Peña and Nika Mistruzzi

Featuring Cara Gee, Lauren Bride, Jessica Salgueiro, Meghan Swaby, Rebecca Applebaum, Sheelagh Darling Pletsch, Nika Mistruzzi, Donna Maloney, Wes Allen and Christopher Begay


Friday August 5th 5:30 PM

Saturday August 6th 3:00 PM

Tuesday August 9th 10:30 PM

Wednesday August 10tth 5:30 PM

Friday August 12th 8:00 PM

Sunday August 14th 12:30 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 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 credit: James Di Donato