Offensive to Some by Tickahdeeboo Productions is the one-woman show gracing the Annex Theatre for Toronto’s Fringe Festival. The seats were packed and the the crowd was pumped for the star Suzanne Roberts Smith to hold our attention. It’s a difficult task, commanding the attention of an audience for an hour, but Smith made it look like a piece of cake.
The play was written by Newfoundland and Labrador playwright Berni Stapleton. Stapleton was inspired by Catherine Mandeville Snow who was the final woman in Newfoundland to be hung for killing her spouse. Stapleton created a modern version of Snow. Smith plays the contemporary representation of a woman driven to murder her husband, along with a Newfie accent.
Offensive to Some is about a woman in prison discussing her newfound criminal fame. Smith produced cackles of glee as she attended imaginary interviews with her daytime television favourites like Rikki Lake and Oprah. I laughed at the joke and then at hypothetical situation of a crass criminal wearing green tights under her jumpsuit on Oprah’s couch.
As silly as that is, Offensive to Some remains true to its name by bringing up more serious content than bantering with talk show hosts. The play brings up tough issues like female struggle, domestic expectation, spousal abuse, and the wavering hand of the law. As often as Smith made me laugh, she parried each joke with lines that were dark and dreary.
The combination is not so much a balance of funny and frightening, but a mash-up of both themes. Smith makes light of things like spousal abuse, joking about past injuries and wrong-doings from her husband. Some could find that offensive, but I think it adds to the personality of the character. After experiencing years of torment, the marks of abuse become more trivial than tragic.
The play has both humour and high drama for whatever theatre preference you choose. Smith plays the protagonist with such energy that I couldn’t help but fall for the killer. She’s quite lovable – for a murderer.
Offensive to Some is playing at Annex Theatre, 730 Bathurst Street, Toronto.
July 6th – 12:00pm
July 9th – 6:45 pm
July 10th – 11:00 pm
July 11th – 1:45 pm
July 13th – 9:15 pm
July 14th – 1:45 pm
- Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
- Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.
Photo credit: Suzanne Roberts Smith taken by Alejandra Atkinson