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'Girls & Boys' by Dennis Kelly

Here for Now Theatre in association with Crow's Theatre

Crow's Theatre website

Joe Szekeres

Fiona Mongillo delivers a bravura performance of subdued emotional intensity in the face of tremendous loss and grief.

I can still picture clearly in my mind Fiona Mongillo three days later delivering a bravely intense performance in the intimate Studio Theatre at Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre.

‘Girls & Boys’ by Dennis Kelly is a one-woman show. Bonnie Deakin’s simple set design of two white risers and a wicker chair with a glass of water on a circular end table allowed me to pay complete attention to the performer. Dressed in a smart emerald, green outfit, a woman (Mongillo) begins to tell us about her past life where she enjoyed all that it had to offer. She dabbled in many things, sometimes illicit, but it was all part and parcel of her trying to find her place and who she was in the world she knows.

At the airport where she patiently waits in a long line to board a plane, she unexpectedly watches how a man handles two gorgeous models who only wanted to butt in front of him so as not to wait at the back of the line. The woman hilariously narrates how this man knows the score and knows exactly what these women are trying to pull on him. His response to these ladies was perfect and had all of us in the audience laughing because it was the perfect zinger for these two bimbo models.

The man and woman strike up a conversation. An intensely passionate and head-over-heels relationship between them leads to their marriage, buying a house, juggling two busy careers, and raising a family.
One would think this is an ordinary family.

Far from it as this world begins unravelling and takes a very disturbing, dark turn. In the end, when everything is finally pieced together, I felt myself gasp from the horror of realizing what has happened.
Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson with tender care and compassion, ‘Girls & Boys’ is marvellous to watch.

Usually, I bring a notebook with me to write notes during the performance, but I closed my book and just allowed a theatre artist to take me on a journey with her.

And what a journey it becomes.

There are moments of humour that thankfully break the tension. As Mongillo speaks to her two children, I could just picture these two adorable tykes who behave how little tykes do. Mongillo responds in such a credible, believable way as any parent would do when kids behave like kids.

As the truth of this ordinary family begins unravelling, I was on the edge of my seat listening intently to everything Mongillo said because I wanted to go and find out what was happening. Some solid yet simple stagecraft in Stephen Degenstein’s lighting and sound design especially when Mongillo transitions from one moment to the next.

What makes this performance ring incredibly true for its 85-minute sans intermission running time is Fiona Mongillo’s naturalistic, calm manner in telling the story. She allowed the words to speak for themselves without resorting to any kind of emotional histrionic wailing or weeping.

I also found this performance very mysterious. It initially appears the script calls for the breaking of the fourth wall for the woman to speak to the audience. About halfway through, it also became clear to me the woman might also be speaking to someone about what has happened to her. I like when that happens.

A riveting performance through and through because Mongillo allowed me to feel as deeply as she felt.

And I did.

That is why we attend live theatre to be moved on such an emotional level. ‘Girls & Boys’ completely bowled and won me over.

Please see it.

Running time: approximately 85 minutes with no intermission.

‘Girls & Boys’ runs until February 12 in the Studio Theatre at Crow’s Theatre, 345 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto. For tickets, call the Box Office at (647) 341-7390 or visit

‘GIRLS & BOYS’ by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson
Lighting and Sound Designer: Stephen Degenstein
Costume and Set Designer: Bonnie Deakin
Performer: Fiona Mongillo

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