Review: Scarberia (Young People’s Theatre)

Scarberia, YPT

YPT’s Scarberia is One of the Best Shows of 2016

With Scarberia, Young People’s Theatre have produced a play that not only explores the desperation and confusion of growing up but also goes far deeper into issues that transcend the traditional view of youth oriented theatre.

So often we assume that when something is aimed at the under 18 crowd that it’s going to be simplistic or even worse patronising. Writer Evan Placey has avoided both of these pitfalls and created a powerful script that YPT took and ran with, creating one of the best things I’ve seen in 2016.

The play flips between two pairs of friends, one pair in Scarborough, Ontario and one in Scarborough, England, who find themselves caught up in the events surrounding a dead body found on the beach. Delving into things like youth gang culture, lower income desperation, and the bonds of friendship, Scarberia isn’t afraid to get raw with its subject matter and pulls no punches. The protagonists are wonderfully flawed, showing loyalty, kindness, cruelty and selfishness throughout the production and never coming off as programmatic or as caricatures.

A great deal of credit needs to go to Shelly Antony and Mishka Thébaud who play both sets of male protagonists. They transition effortlessly between their characters, using both physical and vocal choices to differentiate them. Robert Gontier also deserves credit; as Dialect Coach he ensured there was never a moment the accents took over the roles, while still keeping them authentic.

Hanging over the entire play is the character of Marisha, played by Alejandra Simmons, who brings a brash dignity to the whole show, speaking almost entirely through street poetry. While the male characters almost revel in the Chav/Thug personas society expects of them, Marisha quietly screams with a desire to rise above the limitations placed on her by her area code and be something greater. Simmons plays the role with aplomb, making every hardship that much more heartbreaking.

Of course none of these things can be achieved without good direction and Nina Lee Aquino deserves a mention for this. Whether it was her guidance that led to these great performances or her willingness to let the actors control their choices, either way the final product is fantastic.

Scarberia is, as I said at the beginning, one of those pieces that transcends youth theatre. There’s certainly issues that directly affect teens but this is one of those pieces that really is applicable for everyone and just a fantastic production as a whole. If you have an afternoon free, go see it.


  • Scarberia is playing at the Studio Space at Young People’s Theatre (165 Front St E)
  • Performances run from April 18 to May 1, 2016
  • Showtimes are 10:30 AM & 1:15 PM weekdays, 2:30 PM Sunday
  • Tickets are $24, $19 for Seniors and Youth 18 and under
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 416.862.2222 or in person

Photo of Mishka Thébaud, Alejandra Simmons and Shelly Antony courtesy of Cylla von Tiedemann