First Review of Mommy’s Mask is in!

The currency of a Fringe Festival is word of mouth.  And reviews of shows are what get carried by word of mouth.  Tom Mackan is a familiar presence in the Hamilton area theatre scene being a well known director, actor, reviewer and general encourager of Theatre.  He won the Theatre Ontario Maggie Basset Award in 2013 for his sustained and significant contribution to the development of Theatre in Ontario.

Tom also maintains an email list of activities and events called NewzyBitz.  Tom can be contacted at to get put on his list or share your events happening in the Greater Hamilton Area.  Tom wrote a review of Mommy’s Mask for NewzyBitz and has graciously allowed me to reprint it here.  Enter Tom…

Dear Readers ..

This just in from our ageing wandering reviewer.


By Peter Gruner

Directed by Peter Gruner

At the Citadel Theatre Main Stage


Julie Pierias and A.J. Haygarth rehearsing Mommy's Mask.

Julie Pierias and A.J. Haygarth rehearsing Mommy’s Mask.

When child abduction is the play’s theme, one should come prepared to be uncomfortable at the least. This is disturbing territory. The unspeakable lurks, horror is just out of sight. Offensive things should be expected, warnings posted.

“Mommy’s Mask” safely sidesteps the worst, I am happy to inform you, and without mocking the crushing of the gravity of a missing child, explores instead the levity of horror and leads us into another, more surprising possibility.  If our neighbour didn’t do it, or the evil stranger,  how is it possible to allow ourselves to be shocked and frightened?

It takes some clever fictional stick-handling to get us around sickening without  losing the spine tingling thrilling. Writer Peter Gruner achieves this and it’s worth your while to get to a performance of his play before it ends its run in this Fringe Festival.

He tells a great story but his staging is threatened by the black maw of the Citadel’s vast main stage. Just threatened, mind you, and in spite of my desire to get up and tweak the fine-tuning a bit, the production worked for me. A couple of close-call false-endings were not fatal, but could have been avoided.

The whole benefited thankfully from the works of his mostly seasoned actors who know the intricacies of minimalism and multi role-playing.  The characterizations achieved through polished writing of dialogue and its delivery by accomplished acting kept us entranced, involved, and yes, amused and occasionally laughing aloud.

Les Blackmore is just outstanding in his dual roles, achieving both stable normality in the office workplace and evolving into broad funny in his acting workshop. Deb Dagenais moves from cool police detective to nosey northern Irish neighbour to pathetic child and more with smooth expertise and a well-functioning fringed scarf.  Acting at acting is not one of A.J. Haygarth’s more familiar techniques, but in his dual role of distraught father and class show-off in an acting class his endless variety of facial expressions serves him very well. Strong in her pivotal role of the conflicted mother, Kathy, is Julie Pierias, bringing the needed veritas to her tragic moments. Kyla McCall knows how to use her stage smarts with a mixture of broad and subtle, and is remarkably effective moving easily in and around her triple character roles.

The story is wonderfully told in the writing and the performing. There’s cinematic goose bumps in “Mommy’s Mask”, real jolts of shocks and shivers. It’s a don’t miss show.

Mommy’s Mask at the Hamilton Fringe Festival at The Citadel Theatre – 28 Rebecca Street, Hamilton, ON
Sunday, July 20th at 2:00PM
Wednesday, July 23rd at 9:30PM
Friday, July 25th at 6:00PM
Saturday, July 26th at 11:00PM
Sunday, July 27th at 2:00PM
Tickets: $10.00 (with a $4.00 Fringe Backer button required)
For Advance Online Tickets:
Approximately 50 minutes

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