Review: Heaven Above Heaven Below (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Haeven Above Heaven Below

Heaven Above Heaven Below is an intimate conversation playing at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille

Linda Griffiths’ play Heaven Above Heaven Below opened last night at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace. Thirty years ago I saw her one-woman show Maggie and Pierre and I’ve never forgotten it. Not that I remember specific lines but I remember the feel and look of the play.

I think I’ll also remember Heaven Above Heaven Below. I might even remember some of the lines that I particularly loved.

Lines like “It’s my new rant.” , “… turning thirty idiot.”, and “… new-age voodoo eyes.” Things that I could easily slip into a conversation.

Because Heaven Above Heaven Below is a conversation. The audience are eavesdroppers. Don’t we all love eavesdropping?

The conversation is between two unnamed characters, She (played by Linda Griffiths) and He (played by Layne Coleman). They run into each other at a mutual friend’s wedding twenty years after they decided to end a pregnancy and their relationship.

His wife and son have left early; Her boyfriend isn’t there. They go back to Her hotel room. And now we’re all no doubt thinking that they’ll have sex. I’m not telling.

They talk. Sometimes the conversation flows the way it does between people who know each other; sometimes it’s stilted the way it is between people who haven’t seen each other for a long time. They talk about what they’ve done since they last saw each other, about politics, about nationalism, about being a Canadian, about careers, and relationships and how their relationship ended.

Sometimes, it’s funny, sometimes a bit sad, sometimes a bit angry, just a conversation really. While they talk they drink wine, smoke dope, and do a little coke. The things they did when they were young.

It’s wonderful. I was enthralled. What would they say next? Would they have sex? Did either of them regret ending the pregnancy?

The setting is a boutique hotel room. The set is lovely. I want the painting. I also want Linda Griffiths’ dress.

The Backspace at Theatre Passe Muraille is tiny. It’s also very contained. The seats are basically rows of benches and are steeply raked. You look down on the stage. It’s very intimate, a perfect space for a play like this which is also very intimate.

I loved Heaven Above Heaven Below. It felt like real life only better.

As I said it’s a very small theatre so get there early. I was clambering over people to get a seat. Buy your tickets early too, a couple of dates are already sold out.


  • Heaven Above Heaven Below is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Ave) until December 7
  • Show times – Tuesday through Saturday at 7.30 pm, Saturdays at 2.30 pm
  • Ticket prices range from $20.00 to $27.00, Saturday matinee at the door PWC
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 416-504-7529, or in person at the box office

Photo of Linda Griffiths and Layne Coleman by Michael Cooper.

4 thoughts on “Review: Heaven Above Heaven Below (Theatre Passe Muraille)”

  1. Is “Heaven Above Heaven Below” scheduled to go anywhere else yet? Has the play been published? If so, by who? If not, any plans to?

  2. Sam — great review of a great play! I love your writing style. Down to earth, friendly, forthright, you give a great sense of what it’s like to watch this play — and you really captured what it’s about and the feel: a grown up discussion for grown ups! Bravo.

Comments are closed.