Playing With Fire
shoots and scores

The Theo Fleury Story at the Centaur is an astounding show

By Byron Toben

Thanks for the favourable comments on my last posting about physical theatre. Little did I realize that this next show I was to review would be another exemplar of physical theatre while carrying an important social message as well.

Playing With Fire -

Image: Trudi Lee

Playing With Fire: The Theo Fleury Story is the dynamic stage adaptation of hockey legend Theoren Fleury’s life story, adapted by Kirstie McLellon Day from the best selling book she co-authored with Mr. Fleury.

Ms. Day is the perhaps the most successful hockey writer around, having birthed other books on or with players Wayne Gretzky, Bob Probert and Kelly Hrudey, as well as announcer Ron MacLean.

She teamed up with director Ron Jenkins, who enticed star actor Shaun Smyth for this exhausting one man show. Mr. Smyth had to learn how to skate for it and wow, did he succeed.

Just as the Centaur Theatre replicated the interior of Schwartz’s Deli for its 2011 hit, so here the set is a skateable hockey rink, together with nets at either end, and boards in the background. Mr. Smyth zips and crashes as he narrates the story of a smallish (5’ 6’’) part indigenous kid who had to play tough to compete with bigger players at all stages until he finally made it to the NHL, helping the Calgary Flames to their first Stanley Cup and becoming one of the few 50 goal season scorers ever.

Playing With Fire -

Just as the Centaur Theatre replicated the interior of Schwartz’s Deli for its 2011 hit, so here the set is a skateable hockey rink, together with nets at either end, and boards in the background.

Size wasn’t the only problem. He had been the object of sexual predation by his early coach, Graham James and finally went public after the example of fellow victim Sheldon Kennedy. This secret guilt contributed to his eventual alcohol and cocaine problems, even contemplating suicide.

Despite all this, there is a lot of humour in the play as, despite two failed marriages and dissipating his savings with his drinking, cocaine and gambling habits, he manages to right himself and the play ends with his proclaiming after retirement that he is “coming home”.

Playing With Fire -

Image: Eloi Savoie

His money problems reminded me of the quip by Irish football legend George Best of Manchester United that “I spent most of my money on wine, women and fast cars. The rest I just pissed away.”

Anyway, as the Bard wrote, “all’s well that ends well”. Mr. Fleury now runs a hockey school, participates in a cement business, guests as a motivational speaker and supports various good causes. Here he is at the post show reception with Mr. Smyth and Ms. McLellan Day.

If you go, don’t overlook the wonderful art works in the lobby by fire artist Steven Spozuk who uses soot to create detailed images on paper.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caPlaying With Fire: The Theo Fleury Story ends October 29.
514 288-3161

Images: Electric Umbrella, unless indicated
Read also Saloon and Goblin Theatre, top physical theatre

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

10% Off All Trips with Intrepid Travel!

There are 3 comments

Add yours
  1. Julia Brennan

    This play was an amazing start to the season. The incredibly talented Shaun Smyth brought this compelling story to life and the set itself is worth the price of admission.
    Thanks for the wonderful review, it is spot on.

  2. Gord Masten

    I wasn’t able to attend opening night with Jude, but am pleased to have your insights. And will look at the art next time I’m Centauring.
    Gord & Jude

  3. Patricia Dumais

    What a fantastic show. Enjoyed every minute and I’m not even into hockey! Shaun Smyth got a well deserved full house standing ovation for his spectacular performance. Not to be missed!

Post a new comment