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'Guilt: A Love Story' written and performed by Diane Flacks

Now onstage at Tarragon Theatre

Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

Joe Szekeres

‘Wickedly hilarious and poignantly engaging. Diane Flacks’ remarkable timing regarding the hilarious and serious is noteworthy.”

Smartly dressed in a comfortably stylish pantsuit by designer Jung Hye-Kim, Diane Flacks enters from the back of the auditorium on this opening night. She’s carrying tequila shots on a tray, which she hands out to some audience members. You don’t have to partake if you do not wish to do so.

It’s a hell of an opening to grab the audience’s attention. Who doesn’t love a tequila shot, especially if it’s complimentary? Flacks looks ready to have a good time.

Let’s remember why tequila shots are taken, shall we? One, it’s meant to get the party started.

Two, it can also mean forgetting troubles by downing alcohol quickly. We’ll come back to this shortly.
Hye-Kim’s set is diamond-shaped with a deep blue hue courtesy of Leigh Ann Vardy’s effective lighting design. Several props laid on sand can be found around the stage. Scene transitions are smooth thanks to Vardy’s careful attention. Deanna H. Choi’s sound designs are sharply clear and timed perfectly to underscore the emotional impact of the moment.

At first, Flacks begins with her understanding of guilt. It’s funny as she launches into equating both being Jewish and constantly feeling guilty about something, whether it be from her children, her ex or perhaps an advised and trusted older individual in her family. There are some riotous references regarding motherhood where I laugh out loud. A few innuendos went over my head, but women sitting around me started to chuckle, as did my female guest.

Her facial expressions are a treat to behold. Her energy and stamina deeply propel the pacing forward naturally and realistically. Nothing ever appears rushed. Even in those heightened moments of humour and sadness, I could hear and was on every word Diane spoke.

I hesitate to share too much of the humour. That would spoil the remarkable comic timing and delivery about her faith, being a gay parent and trying to do her best to raise her children with her ex in what might have been construed as an unconventional home setting in the twentieth century. That thinking doesn’t fly in the twenty-first century as children can be raised in a loving home no matter who the parental authority is.

‘Guilt: A Love Story’ is not a comedy show, however. According to the programme: “It is a deep dive into a complex, uncomfortable and highly human feeling.”

In Director Alisa Palmer’s capable hands, Flacks’ first-class script exudes tremendous compassion with a dash of sass on the side. Palmer says in her Director’s Programme Note how important it is to look, listen and share our struggles with each other.

And Palmer doesn’t forget to add humour when things get serious. There is a line from ‘Steel Magnolias’ where one of the characters says: “Things were getting far too serious, and we needed to laugh.”

Flacks does just that. Admirably and bravely.

When she pours into some personal experiences that have pained her and made her feel guilty, these hit home with me. Those sitting around me remained silently still and listening intently. As Diane launched into her memories bravely and with such clarity, I could see them play out in my mind. One moment occurred when she was at a hospital. There are several gasps from the audience when the truth finally comes out about what happens there. Let’s just say that, at this point, said tequila shot that opened the show was well timed.

Flacks’ charisma and charm won me over. She is a bona fide raconteur of perception, humour, warmth, and charm.

And that’s the reason to see ‘Guilt: A Love Story’.

And another thought: On an interesting side note, I’ve also heard the same joke about those who practice Catholicism and are always made to feel guilty (The Catholic Guilt). Given this personal connection, Flacks certainly got my attention, and I’m all ears to hear what she says.

Attention all Catholics – pay a visit to Tarragon to see what Diane Flacks has to say.

Running time: approximately 85 minutes

‘Guilt: A Love Story’ runs until March 3 at Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Avenue, Toronto. For tickets, visit or call the Box Office (416) 531-1827.

GUILT: A LOVE STORY written and performed by Diane Flacks
Directed by Alisa Palmer
Movement Coach and Intimacy Coordination by Rebecca Harper
Set and Costume Design by Jung-Hye Kim
Lighting Design by Leigh Ann Vardy
Sound Design by Deanna Choi
Stage Management by Sandy Plunkett

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