The Art of Building a Bunker (QuipTake) 2013 SummerWorks Review

The art of building a bunker copy

On Sunday evening I went down to the Scotiabank Studio Theatre to check out The Art of Building a Bunker as part of this years SummerWorks Festival. I experienced a contentious and truly satisfying bit of Theatre- a difficult journey “down the river of inclusivity and into the ass of the world”.

Upon entry I am immediately struck by the set design: the environment set up is a surreal structure; a visually striking three-dimensional blueprint of a subterranean room. This creative set reminded me of an art installation; the truly inspiring design by Camellia Koo sets an unsettling and dramatic tone.

We are introduced to the character of Elvis as he is attending a mandatory sensitivity training course for work. In this one-man show, Adam Lazarus delivers a wonderfully endearing performance as Elvis, a man overcome by having to deal with others in the world, and of all the tragic characters of his sensitivity training course. Lazarus is able to immediately set up comedic and believable tension between Elvis and the sensitivity training leader, Cameron.

The play is very funny. Lazarus and co creator Guillermo Verdicchia have developed hilarious characters and snappy dialogue but what expands its meaning is the moments of real discomfort and the challenges that Elvis experiences when confronting his own anxiety. We quickly learn that underneath his attitude and bravado lies a man who is very afraid and feels powerless within his world.

This is not an easy play at times. The character of Elvis rants about his frustrations and his comments are both relatable and offensive to hear. The underlying sadness and disturbing nature of Elvis’ pain is artfully mitigated by comedic circumstances, but on a deeper level, a large part of this experience for me was figuring out how much of myself I saw in Elvis and, in his many moments of discomfort, how much of me was afraid to relate to him.

A hilarious ride through sensitivity training and one’s man inner struggle with, as Cameron would put it, “His inner obstacle to becoming.”


  • The Art of Building a Bunker plays at ScotiaBank Studio Theatre (6 Noble Street)
  • Friday August 9, 2:00 pm; Sunday August 11, 9:30 pm; Monday August 12, 4:30 pm; Tuesday August 13, 7:00 pm; Thursday August 15, 9:30 pm; Friday August 16, 2:00 pm; Saturday August 17, 4:30 pm.
  • All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at, By phone by calling the Lower Ossington Box Office at 416-915-6747, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth (located at 100A Ossington Avenue, first floor) Aug. 6-18 10AM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
  • Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.