The Shortstanding Festival

Festival of short plays features three line-ups in year three

By Byron Toben

The Shortstanding Festival of Short Plays augers to become a longstanding feature on the Montreal scene. Now in its third year, it has expanded to three Line-Ups of six segments each, C, D and E, rotating within its expanded ten-day lifespan.

All this takes place at the tiny (35-seat) Freestanding Room (FSR). The Freestanding collective was founded in 2008 by actor Johanna Nutter and consists of a fixed number of 20 creative individuals, each of whom must find a new member for the co-op to replace them if or when they move on. Current FSR administrators are Jen Quinn and Jonathan Fournier. The Line-Ups consist of acts by FSR members as well as outsiders, some neophytes, some established locals.

Some brief highlights follow:

Line-Up D is M.C.’d by Nic Turcotte and Matt Xhignesse from the somewhat giggly YouTube site Re/Stage Reviews. Full of enthusiasm, but Ebert and Siskel, they’re not.


Features Matthieu Mascre as Dad and Elodie Dupuy as Mom to 10-year-old Maya Kudzia as their precocious daughter, whose learning ability seems to link with the parents’ fading memories. Written by Johnathan Fournier, little Maya steals the show. Actors, heed W.C. Field’s warning!

Swimming Lesson

A staged reading with FSR member and mentor Ned Cox appearing as a cautious Dad and his real life teenage son Jeremy as his swimming star son, en route to lessons at a bus stop, delayed by a collapsed passenger (Nic Turcotte).

A is for Arsenic

Features Julia Borsellino, Jess Fildes and Kelly Lopes, all plotting revenge on a man affianced to all three. Cleverly directed by Sara Rodriguez (note the swinging light bulb at the end). Full of allusions to films, particularly Hitchcock, it was written by London UK funny lady Lexy Howe. Click to see Ms Howe’s hilarious short video The Cream Cake.

Rounding out the evening were Caroline Gauthier and Hannah Dorozio singing and dancing scantily clad in Origin and clown artist Kathleen Aubert in boKA.

Line-Up D continues at 8 pm on March 23, 26 and 28.

Simon Anthony Abou-Fadel and Miranda Handford in A Weekend Away

Simon Anthony Abou-Fadel and Miranda Handford in A Weekend Away

Line-Up E is M.C’d by McGill Greek theatre expert Lynn Kozak who amusingly relates My Favourite Deaths of figures in the Iliad.

The Psychology of Plants

Kathleen Stavert’s teaser for her first one woman show as she returns to Montreal after many years in London UK. It involves her character’s determination to become Miss Horticulture of the year. A talented lady, she also stars in the three-hander…

Miranda and Dave Begin Again

… as a character Miranda, paired with Dave (Kenny Streule), whose arguments with her lead to a mix-up with her sister Eden (Eva Foote). Spirited acting here, as in the next…

A Weekend Away

Wherein a real life Miranda Handford, a NTS grad with a long C.V., plays a wife, Hannah Yearning to hubby Marc Longing (another established actor, Simon Anthony Abou-Fadel) as they drive to a weekend respite, freed for the moment from the boredom and tribulations of household and children. A meaty part for Ms Handford, but then, she wrote the play, so why not? Likewise, in …

Empty Rooms

Kathleen Turnbull co-created the show and gets to emote a lot as the estranged twin sister of Michael Lortie, who suffers grief and guilt after their mother’s wake. Tight hugging works to diminish rage.

The evening ends with a six-person reprise of excerpts from the 12 person campy rock Sci-Fi musical Captain Aurora, which captivated many at the Fringe and the Centaur Wildside.

Line-UP E continues at 8 pm on February 21 and 25, and at 2 pm on February 27.

Line-UP C (not reviewed above) is at 8 pm on February 24 and 27, and at 2 pm on February 28.

Tickets: 514 418-1848 or

Images: Joseph Ste. Marie

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

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