Review: What You Want: Toronto (MachineFair)

I almost missed this show.  My date Otis and I opted to race the lazy streetcar in the chilly Thursday drizzle to the 7:30 finish line.  The streetcar may have won, but the show was conveniently held an extra few minutes for we soaked lolly-gaggers.  Boy, am I glad.

What You Want: Toronto was an evening of deep-thinking, new ideas, and everything an evening of theatre should be.  And it will be a new show every night.

Conceived by Vancouver ex-pat playwright Andrew Templeton a few years ago, it’s part one of a two-part series currently in development.  What You Want: Toronto is actually the sequel to What You Want: Vancouver, but given Templeton’s residency at the Theatre Passe Muraille and his collaborative, conversational style, the Toronto piece will only emerge after sufficient local audience response. Upon entering the theatre, we were offered a brief questionnaire and those mini-golf pencils to submit feedback which Templeton and his partner (and dramaturge) Jill Margo accepted happily.

Last night, actors Gillian Bennett, Russell Bennett, Melanie Bray and Alex Poch-Goldin filed onto the stage in front of music stands and sat on black leather stools.  They took turns portraying the fractured psyche of Templeton’s mind – making very clear that they were at the mercy of his pen, and of devices of the theatre – before breaking into achingly real characters whose struggles are so commonplace that they are rarely realized on stage. Real people concerns: wondering what we want and why we do what we do punctuated their endeavours with eloquence, vulgarity and humour.

Following the production, Templeton and Margo asked we audience to share our impressions of the play and also to discuss how where you are influences What You Want.  And influence it we did… but how we shall see in later incarnations. Perhaps as I write this, Templeton has begun the metamorphosis by including the general consensus that were Toronto a lady, she’d be a brunette. Perhaps not.

I hope to go back and find out.

Check the MachineFair website and see What You Want: Toronto, twice, thrice.  Every show is pay-what-you-can save for the October 29th workshop which is only $25.  Join the discussion and be a part of a beautiful co-operative evening out.  You will be glad you did.


What You Want: Toronto produced by MachineFair in residency as part of Theatre Passe Muraille’s Bring the Buzz Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto.

Eight unique presentations will take place over the three-week residency. Presentation nights are: October 18, 20, 25, 26, 27, 29; November 2, 3.

All performances are Pay What You Can, except for the workshop presentation on October 29, which is $25 general/$20 PGC members/students.

Tickets available in advance at the or by calling 416.504.7529 or in person during box office hours.