FRINGE TORONTO: A Singularity of Being, Review by Chris Dupuis

A Singularity of Being

Written By T.Berto

Directed by Ed Roy
Presented by the Quantum Co-op and Keith Fernandes

Featuring John Blackwood, Soo Garay, Elizabeth Saunders, David Tripp, and Clinton Walker

Presented at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, 30 Bridgman Avenue


Monday July 6th 8:00pm
Tuesday July 7th 3:00pm
Thursday July 9th 12:00pm
Friday July 10th 8:45pm
Sunday July 12th 5:15pm

A Singularity of Being isn't a show that would normally be my thing. T. Berto's straight ahead narrative drama, loosely based on the life of handicapped physicist extraordinaire Stephen Hawking, follows the life of a cosmologist named Roland (Clinton Walker) from his days as a rebellious undergrad through his career as an accomplished member of his field.

Shortly into the play we learn that Roland is suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS for short. Also knows as Lou Gehrig's Disease, the syndrome is a degenerative neurological disorder which slowly robs its victims of muscle control until they end up paralyzed in a wheelchair and unable to speak. Obviously this takes a toll not just on the person suffering from the disease but those around them and Berto is primarily interested in exploring what happens to the members of Roland's family as his condition degenerates.

Walker is flawless in the lead, bringing the perfect combination of sensitivity and humour to the role. Soo Garay is magical as Sally, Roland's wife who sticks by him through it all, despite the stress his suffering puts on her and joyfully helps him through his daily exercises and tops up his glass of whiskey. Elizabeth Saunders gets great laughs as Roland's stern but loving mother and she and Garay play perfectly together as the two women who have looked after Roland through different stages in his life.

Director Ed Roy has staged the show very simply, with a couple of chairs and hand props, focusing on developing the relationships between the characters rather than a big, flashy production. The press kit says that the company hopes the play will make the leap from the Fringe to a Toronto mainstage, and I'm sure with bigger chunk of change behind the production Roy will flesh it out in his characteristic style.

Though A Singularity of Being is very conventional script (at times even predictable) the combination of the superb cast and Roy's direction make it worth sitting through. The show doesn't challenge anything about the state of contemporary performance, or ask very much of its audience, but it's still a satisfying ninety minutes of theatre.

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