By Ellen S. Jaffe
TOLLER (Toller-on-the-run Productions), written and directed by Sky Gilbert, is about figure-skater Toller Cranston as he muses on his life and times. The piece was inspired by Cranston’s 1997 memoir Zero Tollerance: An Intimate Memoir by The Man That Revolutionized Figure Skating. Gilbert premiered the play at the Artword Artbar in November 2015 and remounted it for the Toronto Fringe. David Benjamin Tomlinson re-creates his brilliant portrayal of Toller, talking about isolation, identity, sexuality, art and beauty, in language that conveys both sparkle and shadow. His voice and movements capture attention. Stephen Newman’s set design, in which Toller uses a billowing piece of white, lacy fabric as costume, prop, and scenery, is both simple and dramatic. Gehan Udayanga does an excellent job as Miguel, Toller’s demanding “partner”. In his later life in Mexico, a scene echoes his story of the boys who persecuted him in Swastika, Ontario as a child. Judith Sandiford’s lighting takes us through shades of cool and warm, and the music (perhaps drawn from skating performances) enhances the mood. This play for adult audiences by one of Hamilton’s major writers, currently playing at the Artwood Artbar, is well worth seeing (I’ve seen it twice, enjoyed it both times).