Review: The Sacrifice Zone (Theatre Gargantua)


Exceptionally performed and written, The Sacrifice Zone is playing at Toronto’s Factory Theatre

It has often been said that in the face of adversity, there are only two courses of action a person may take: fight or flight. The Sacrifice Zone, now playing at the Factory Theatre, examines the fallout experienced by one community in the wake of a tragic industrial accident.

This Theatre Gargantua production – presented in association with The Uncertainty Principle – asks the question: can individuals make large corporations accountable for their actions? It’s a question that has been at the heart of worldwide globalization debates for decades, but the story presented here was so personal and so gripping that it really explored a much broader aspect of human nature. How much are each of us willing to sacrifice in search of justice?


The main story centers on the pursuit of one man and woman, hoping to launch a government inquiry following the loss of each of their partners in the mining accident. As one would expect, they are met with nothing but fake sympathy and buyout attempts from the nameless corporate giant. What makes this play truly hit home are the intimate interactions between the pair as well as between several of the town’s residents: a mother and her son, two employees falling in love, a school teacher, and members of corporate management.  Each must make up his or her own mind about just how much the lavish lifestyle afforded them by the corporation is actually worth.

Playwright Suzie Miller created a marvelous piece that explored the complicated issues of morality, greed and corporate responsibility without any sort of pretense or peachiness. It was a piece that really made you think hard about what you would do in any of the hypothetical situations presented. The dialogue was conversational yet poignant, with the interactions between the characters being realistic and genuine – all being brought to life through the wonderful acting of last night’s performance.

Michelle Pollak gave a heartbreakingly sincere performance as the widow in mourning. She was able to effortless channel both explosive rage and unfathomable despair. Joel Benson was a stage chameleon – able to portray a grief-stricken widower and a naïve child with equal fervor.  For his part, Michael Spence, who also provided the set design, was charming and charismatic.

Playing the roles of a mid-level corporate manager in love as well as a children’s superhero, Spence perfectly embodied each of his characters. Ciara Adams, who played Spence’s love interest, gave the most emotive performance of the night. You could really feel her character’s heartbreak towards the end of the play.

But the standout star of the night for this reviewer was Pam Patel. Like Benson, Patel exhibited a robust emotional spectrum. Whether it was the innocence of a school-aged child or the anguish of a teacher describing a horrific death, Patel sincerely connected with the audience in every scene she was in.

Thoughtful and provocative, The Sacrifice Zone delivers an emotional rollercoaster that any theatre fanatic should endeavor to experience before the show’s end on November 30th.


  • The Sacrifice Zone runs through November 30th at the Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street)
  • Ticket prices vary depending on which night you attend, with discounts available for students, seniors and artists. See website for full details.
  • Tickets can be ordered online, by telephone (416-504-9971), or in-person at the venue box office. Service charges may apply to online or telephone orders.

Photo by Michael Cooper.