Next Stage Theatre Festival 2012: Memorial

Life and death collide in Steven Gallagher's poignant play

Presented by Next Step Productions
Written by Steven Gallagher
Directed by D. Jeremy Smith

Steven Gallagher's Memorial at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. Photo Credit: Jacklyn Atlas.

Death may be everyone's biggest fear, but most people have imagined, at some point, what their funeral will look like. What music will be played? Who will attend, and what will they say about the deceased? In Next Step Productions' Memorial, now playing as part of the Toronto's Fringe's Next Stage Theatre Festival, the terminally ill Dylan (played by Mark Crawford) is planning his own funeral down to the smallest detail. He's also getting married. Both of these events are being prepared for in the home he shares with his partner and caregiver, Trevor (Pierre Simpson). His older sister, Ruth (Mary Francis Moore) helps Dylan get ready for his wedding, happening later that afternoon, but also reads pieces of the eulogy she has prepared and will deliver at his memorial the following week.

After being diagnosed with brain cancer and given six months to live, Dylan sets out to organize his memorial, which he will attend himself, anticipating all the fabulous things people will say about him. Mark Crawford's Dylan is first introduced to the audience from the hospital bed set up in his home, yelling at his partner Trevor who needs to give him his medication, and his sister Ruth who needs to bring him a blanket. Dylan's disease is revealed early in the production, so the irritability he shows towards his loved ones brings about sympathy from the audience, rather than revealing his character as unlikeable.

One of the many highlights of Memorial are the flashbacks that come while Dylan is speaking with his sister Ruth, such as the time on his birthday when he got drunk and high, storming into Ruth's bedroom and giddily telling her about the date he just went on with a boy he liked. Another memory, brought forth by Dylan's sonogram photo of Ruth's daughter, shows Dylan visiting a very pregnant Ruth shortly after he and Trevor started dating. After each flashback, a photo is added to a collage of picture frames in the middle of the stage, which culminates at the end of the production with Dylan's memorial photo, “A dramatic 6 feet by 6 feet, in black and white” exactly what he wanted.

Memorial is a beautiful production, running the spectrum of emotion over 75 minutes. Crawford's Dylan is joyful, childlike, and also heartbreaking, while Simpson's Trevor is his perfect match. The tenderness of their relationship brings the audience to tears, and even though two different events are taking place in the final scene, the combination is seamless and touching.

Memorial runs until January 13th at Factory Studio Theatre. Visit for showtimes and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2013-01-02 - Sun, 2013-01-13
Our rating:


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.