Violent be Violet is a dark, disturbing surge of emotional extremes touching on the very delicate subject of mental illness. It is a performance at this year’s SummerWorks that will leave plenty of room for discussion and reflection, something that is sure to stay with you for a while.
Fourteen years ago, Violet (Tanisha Taitt) became the only survivor of a bloody massacre of her classmates, killing the murderer in her own defense.
The tragedy haunts her to this day, at age 36, and severely affects not only her life but the life of her family – her mother Yolande (Sandi Ross), brother Amos (Peter Bailey) – and Sister Genevieve (Sarah Dodd), her former Psych professor now a nun. Her internal battle spirals out of control culminating to the truth behind the massacre.
This performance takes a first-hand exploration of the face of mental illness and how it can drastically affect not only the individual but those near and dear. You witness Violet suffer her mental breaks, breaks that occur randomly and without warning, and how they lead to endangering all those around. Her counselling sessions with Sister Genevieve peel back her fractured layers to reveal her tumultuous mind.
It’s not an easy production to watch, especially if the topic of mental illness hits close to home. Much applause to Taitt (also serving as playwright) who is unapologetic and is relentless in the torrent of emotions she unleashes for the audience to soak in. You feel for Violet, you feel a lot for her and your heart reaches out to her family who only want her to recover but end up triggering her outbursts accidentally.
Accompanying me to the show was MoT contributor Adam who was as stunned as I was by the magnitude of the performance but brought up a few concerns with the staging aspect near the end, something I noticed as well. At certain points in the show, the staging felt off as the actors looked out into the audience rather than at Violet whom they were speaking with. After a few beats, the staging choice started to make sense but it came off feeling disjointed.
Violent be Violet is my favorite production at SummerWorks that I’ve seen thus far. Rich, cathartic and stunningly intense – it is a performance that will leave you breathless.
- Violent be Violet is playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille main space (16 Ryerson Ave).
- Performances are Tuesday the 14th at 8 pm, Thursday the 16th at 5:30 pm, Friday the 17th at 3 pm, and Sunday the 19th at 10 pm.
- All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at ticketwise.ca, by phone by calling the Lower Ossington Box Office at 416-915-6747, in person at the Lower Ossington Box Office (located at 100A Ossington Avenue) Mon. – Sun. 12 pm – 7 pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.