Review: The Fatal Gazogene (Red One Theatre Collective and the Clean Shavian Co-op)

Set in a 19th century museum, The Fatal Gazogene delivers heightened drama and perfect staging.

I had no idea what to expect when my date and I headed towards historic Campbell House Saturday evening to see The Fatal Gazogene.  As we rounded the corner of University and Queen streets, we saw wine-toting guests chatting excitedly on the front porch.  We quickly joined them and were soon invited to peruse the main floor museum and gardens.  There was a display case showing examples of the gazogene: a double-barreled seltzer bottle (reminiscent of an hourglass) which carbonated the liquid in the upper chamber by mixing two chemicals in the compartment below.  And if that gazogene should be poisoned, the effects would surely be fatal!

Shaw’s one-act took place in the upstairs drawing room, where an intimate gathering of people lined the perimeter of the space.  The play was smart, funny, and perfectly staged.  Kendall Wright as Phyllis the chamber maid was hilariously devout, spanning a wide range of emotion with every line delivery.  Davie Reale as Lord George Fiztollemache, 8th Baronet Cullybackey, was boisterous and commanding, while being sheepish and demure. Kat Germain was a delight as she craftily characterized her roles, and David Tompa and Lorna Wright played ironically reasonable characters, given the absurdity of the situation.  My friend and I laughed hysterically throughout the entire play.

While this production was a combined effort with Clean Shavian Co-op,  Gazogene was reminiscent of other Red One Theatre productions I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Setting the play in a 19th Century museum heightened the drama and hysteria of the piece.  Every effort was made to both make the audience feel as guests in the lavish drawing room, but also to use historical artifacts whenever possible.

Once finished, the actors invited us to stay for another portion of the evening, which this night featured singer/songwriter Emma Jane Lynch who charmed us into the evening. The intimate crowd lapped up her songs like thirsty Adolphus for the gazogene.  Every show features a new guest performer for the second half.

Head over before it’s too late for a wonderful summer evening in the company of good actors, wine, music and friends.  Only two shows remain!


Campbell House Museum, (160 Queen Street West)

8:30 pm Friday August 3rd (special guest Rory Lavelle) and Saturday August 4th (special guest Boys Who Say No)

Tickets are $23 online or $20 at the door.