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Sunday, September 22, 2013


(Susan Danford. Pic by Jesse Kramer)

Formidable performance from Susan Danford in well-crafted, profound and compelling work. (Review by Keith Millar)

Do laundry
Pay bills
Iron black shirt
Rake leaves
Buy groceries
Wrap gifts.

A woman sits in her immaculate house compulsively making list after list. Everything she must do is listed.

She explains that each list has its priorities and some floating tasks – such as paint the fence or sewing on missing buttons. These are often put off until another day and reappear on another list. Unfortunately, one such item – a simple request from a friend – never gets done and leads to tragic consequences which are at the heart of this moving story.

The List which was staged at The Witness Hilton Arts Festival this year is an award winning play by Canadian playwright Jennifer Tremblay. Told as a monologue, it is a well-crafted, profound and a very compelling work with prose that sometimes verges on the poetic.

An un-named wealthy and fairly snobbish housewife is struggling to come to terms with her mundane daily routine. She has persuaded her husband to move to a small village but now she finds she is unable to integrate into the rural lifestyle. She feels increasingly isolated, and in a desperate attempt to ward off the emptiness which threatens to engulf her, she obsessively makes ever more elaborate “to do” lists.

One cannot help feeling some sympathy for this woman but, all in all, she is not a very lovable character. Her neglect to deal with a simple request from her only friend has serious ramifications - and all she is left to do is list the ways she has contributed to the tragedy.

South African actress Susan Danford delivers a formidable performance in this production. Full of emotion and introspection, she fashions a multi-dimensional character. The extreme anxiety the woman feels is at times tangible, and one can sense her desperation.

The List was directed by Leila Henriques and is produced by the Baxter Theatre. – Keith Millar