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'Never the Last' by Molly MacKinnon and Christine Quintana

A Theatre Passe Muraille Presentation of a Delinquent Theatre Production

Pictured: Christine Quintana as Sophie/Sonia. Photo by Bold Rezolution

Joe Szekeres

Laura McLean directs ‘Never the Last’ with a subtle caress of compassion.

According to the press release: ‘Never the Last’ allows the audience to learn about innovative European twentieth-century composer Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté (Christine Quintana) and the sometimes-tumultuous relationship with her husband expressionist painter Walter Gramatté (Amitai Marmorstein). Sophie is also known as Sonia. The twenty-something-year-old meets Walter meet at a party. Sonia stands looking at a self-portrait painting for a few moments. By the look on her face, she is both puzzled and yet intrigued by it when Walter enters and sees her looking at the painting. The two of them strike up a conversation in spits and spurts of curt one-line sentences at first.

Something apparently clicks in the conversation between the two and they begin a ten-year relationship that sees its varied artistic and personal highs and lows. Their marriage brought freedom for Sonia to devote herself full time to composing and giving recitals while Walter could pursue his painting.

This initial lifestyle becomes stymied as Sonia and Walter move from Berlin to the suburbs, to Barcelona and back to Berlin. At times the two of them have long periods of separation. Bills begin to pile up and the two of them never really seem to achieve the status they want respectively as a composer and painter. The inevitability and fragility of life finally enter their lives.

Through this interdisciplinary and dramatic exploration, the Violinist (Molly MacKinnon) plays the rarely performed ten violin solo pieces composed by Eckhardt-Gramatté. These musical moments both haunt and intensify the conflicting emotions in Sonia and Walter’s lives.

Laura McLean directs the production with a subtle caress of compassion highlighted by Jill White’s at times shadowy lighting. The story’s pacing zips along and never drags thanks to some creative staging and innovatively synchronistic movement of chairs between Quintana and Marmorstein. I wondered how all ten musical compositions could be played within the eighty-minute running time of the play. With a golden flair of piquing the heartstrings, Molly MacKinnon deftly plays all ten compositions with tremendous grace.

Christine Quintana as Sophie opens the 80-minute production and becomes the narrator as she leads us on her journey. There were some audibility issues at the top of the show for about ten minutes when I could not hear either Quintana or Amitai Marmorstein (and I sat in the third row). If the production continues to other venues, hopefully, the creative team will be aware and can rectify this issue.

Quintana and Marmorstein deliver solid performances throughout. Their emotions are credible as they begin to veer off into different paths as their marriage continues. The real sadness at the end is emotionally moving.

Running time: approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.

The production runs until April 16 at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Avenue, Toronto. For tickets, call the Box Office (416) 504-7529 or visit

NEVER THE LAST by Molly MacKinnon and Christine Quintana
A Theatre Passe Muraille Presentation of a Delinquent Theatre Production

Director: Laura McLean
Choreographer: Kayla Dunbar
Lighting Designer: Jill White
Set Designer: Jenn Stewart
Projection Designer: Joel Grinke
Costume Designer: Carmen Alatorre
Sound Designer: Nancy Tam
Stage Manager: Geoff Jones

Performers: Molly MacKinnon, Christine Quintana, Amitai Marmorstein

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