Breathing Corpses - Theatre Review

By: Shari Archinoff

When I was invited to see the play, Breathing Corpses that opened near the end of October, I assumed I was in for something that would fit in with the macabre nature of the Halloween season. This play, however, wasn’t about the supernatural or the undead, but simply told the stories of ordinary people just trying to get through life, but not always making it. 


Breathing Corpses, written by award-winning English playwright Laura Wade, opens in a fairly nondescript hotel room where Amy, the chambermaid discovers another dead body. Through its use of non-linear narrative, Breathing Corpses tells the story of the man who ended up dead in the hotel room and how he came to be there. Each scene takes us to a different point in time and features a different set of characters, but still cleverly provides enough context clues so that the audience can understand what’s happening as the tale unfolds. Each set of characters lead completely different lives, but they all end up being connected in ways they’ll never really understand. Just as I thought the winding story had come full circle, it ended with a little twist that kept me thinking all the way home. 


Even though the play could have been adapted to suit the natural accents of the mostly local cast, director David Ferry kept the original English setting, and the small ensemble cast rose to the challenge of keeping up convincing British dialects throughout the show. Even though some of the actors only had a small amount of stage time, they all managed to create well-rounded characters and gave impactful performances. One scene that depicted a particularly intense moment of domestic violence felt so real that I found myself actually holding my breath. Yet despite the inherently heavy subject matter, there were still a number of light moments sprinkled throughout to provide comedic relief.

If you’re interested in seeing the Breathing Corpses, it plays at the Coal Mine Theatre on Danforth Avenue near Coxwell Avenue until November 13, 2016. The theatre space, which holds less than 100 seats per performance is extremely intimate, allowing you to be very close to the action on stage and appreciate every nuance of the actors’ performances. I highly recommend checking out the production and supporting this neighourhood theatre company. To find out more information about the play or about any of the other exciting productions coming up during the 2016-2017 season at the Coal Mine Theatre, visit

Photos by BensoPhoto.