Review: Late Company (Why Not Theatre & Surface/Underground)

Photo of Liam Sullivan in Late Company by Dahlia Katz

Late Company is a show “full of emotion” that will “take you on a journey” on stage in Toronto

When I chose to review Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company at The Theatre Centre, I was interested to see how it compared to Herman Koch’s novel The Dinner as both share the same premise. Two couples –- one a political family –- sit down to discuss their teenage sons and the horror that boys that age can reap.

The premise is where the comparison stops as what I witnessed on Thursday night was a triumph of acting, high drama, and emotion. Koch’s book, while entertaining, didn’t have me feeling anything close to what Late Company still has me contemplating now.

I love stories that place their characters in one space and, for lack of better term, “have them go at it.” Known as “bottle episodes” in television, Late Company had me excited before I stepped into the theatre. After taking my seat, to see its simple set of a dinner table and six chairs crowned by a makeshift chandelier, I was ready for the action –- emotional or otherwise –- to begin.

Late Company opens with a couple, Michael and Debora Shaun-Hastings, (Richard Greenblatt and Rosemary Dunsmore) awaiting the arrival of their dinner guests. Things seem on edge but light; the mystery still hanging in the air.

Upon the arrival of Bill, Tamara, and Curtis Dermot (John Cleland, Fiona Highet, and Liam Sullivan) apologies are given for late arrivals, and courtesies exchanged, with the “why” still waiting to be revealed.

I’m not sure if it was my anticipation for action, but I found I when the characters were discussing whether or not to “start” the proceedings, I was chomping at the bit for them to agree. While the pleasantries were authentic to a dinner party, I felt there was a bit of a lag in getting to the heart and meat of the plot.

Once dinner is served, I got my first real taste of Dunsmore and from there, I never looked back.

Upon leaving the theatre and on my walk home I couldn’t help but think repeatedly that this really is The Rosemary Dunsmore Show. The letter reading scene is still with me. It is jarring, and so fraught with sorrow and feeling, it took me to the depths of my consciousness. It was as though the entire audience held their breath out of respect for Dunsmore’s performance and is a highlight of the show.

Cleland and Highet play their post-yuppie couple to a tee, and Greenblatt is sober and honest as his Red-Tory politician. Sullivan is reserved as teenager Curtis, placed in an awkward situation he created for himself. At some points, I couldn’t tell if this was intentional, however, it works for the character and the overall performance.

In the scenes with wider discussion, the prowess of the cast comes through as well. The dialogue feels as authentic as real conversation. Even in the scenes of heightened emotion, it is a collaborative effort to build the scene as opposed to the simple line leading to line.

Late Company is a show full of emotion. Anyone looking to be taken on a journey by a talented cast, and experience a story that is thematically poignant and modern, should get out to The Theatre Centre before last curtain on November 29th.


  • Late Company is playing until November 29th at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West)
  • Shows run Tuesday to Sunday. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 8:30pm, with an additional matinee at 1:30pm on Saturday; Wednesday and Friday shows are at 7:00pm; Sundays shows are at 3:00pm
  • Tickets range from $22 for Arts Worker/Senior/Student to $30 General Admission and can be purchased online or at the venue
  • Audience advisory: Mature language

Photo of Liam Sullivan by Dahlia Katz