Review: A Woman is a Secret (Ripjaw Producions and The Storefront Theatre in association with Sidemart Theatrical Grocery)

Photo of Martha Burns and Tony Nappo in A Woman is a Secret

A Woman is a Secret, at the Theatre Centre, is No-Strings-Attached Joy

All I knew about A Woman is a Secret before going in was that it was a world premiere and that it was written by John Patrick Shanley — who, despite an impressive body of work, is still probably best known for writing Moonstruck. It’s how I prefer to go into something if possible: no expectations.

I was first struck by the beautiful set as I walked into the space at the Theatre Centre. Once the piece started I was enveloped by the wonderful live music: musician Matthew Barber is on stage the whole time and provides an interlude between each vignette. Which brings me to my next bit of information: instead of being one long play, this is a series of mini-plays. Little snippets of life — or fantasy — played out for us in bite-sized pieces.

There are seven of these vignettes, and all of them but one feature a man and a woman. This production has used this as an opportunity to showcase a whack of very talented actors by using different people for each vignette, save for one. Anna Hardwick and Karen Knox are the only two actors who play double roles, and they both do it so beautifully it would be interesting to know how many people noticed that it was the same actors coming back a second time, since they were both able to present completely different characters and weren’t recognizable at all.

Overall the piece was lovely. I enjoyed it, I had a nice night, I would recommend it to friends. But here was nothing in it that was earth shattering or ground breaking. Nothing that will stay with me for days or weeks or years to come. It had no aftertaste. It was a clean night of theatre. And that is just fine.

I am not someone who believes that every piece of theatre or art must be a giant message-filled mind-shifting didactic experience. Sometimes it’s perfect to just have fun.

That’s what this was, enjoyable, safe, easy. A nice way to spend some time, a nice show to take a date – filled with some pretty deliciously sexy moments, a well-written script with nice clean direction by Andrew Shaver, a slew of talented actors and musicians – all wrapped up in a beautiful set and costume design by Hanna Puley – and Kim Purtell, delivering one of her always excellent lighting designs.

There were two pieces that really stood out for me: the piece that closed the first act, and the piece that closed the play itself. I won’t tell you anything about them because given how short these are pretty much anything would be a spoiler. I will tell you that Trent Pardy and Molly Flood had me leaning forward in my seat practically drooling the energy was so electric. And closing the night with Martha Burns and Tony Nappo? Come on. Does it get better than that? It was a treat to see these two play on stage, and I kind of feel like I’m always going to be in love with Martha Burns, but she happens to be playing a character that I just want to scoop up and twirl about in glee and excitement I love her so much.

What I’m saying is I am happy enjoying myself for a night, no strings attached, and that’s what I got with A Woman is a Secret. A couple of hours of escape that was sometimes funny, sometimes sexy, and sometimes touching – but always enjoyable. I recommend it, treat yourself, you deserve it.


  • A Woman is a Secret plays until April 5, 2015 at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St W)
  • Showtimes are Tuesdays to Saturdays 8pm, Sunday Matinees 2pm
  • Tickets are $30 (Arts Worker/Student/Seniors tickets $25) Limited Pay-What-You-Can (PWYC) tickets available for the March 29 matinee. Tickets available online, or by phoning the box office in person or at 416-538-0988

Photo of Martha Burns and Tony Nappo by John Gundy