“These works are brimming with levity and showcase the power of imagination to pursue true freedom. It is an honour to be directing these wildly entertaining and provocative plays for the people of Barrie.” – Dylan Trowbridge, Director.

Talk Is Free Theatre (TIFT) begins the new decade with a wildly imaginative double-bill including an unearthed piece of neglected Canadian theatre history and a playfully penned adaptation from one of Russia’s most influential playwrights. Continuing this season’s theme of celebrating the beautiful and the brutal, Herringbone is a deeply layered exploration of the effects on a young boy forced into the entertainment industry during dire times. The Yalta Game centers around two star-crossed strangers who are profoundly connected and invent ways of freeing themselves from their monotony.  Together these works transcend their differences and make for one evening of thrilling entertainment.

Making his directorial debut with TIFT is Dylan Trowbridge, whose Dora Moore Award-nominated work blends tragedy and fantasy to create bold, unique experiences for the audience. Both Trowbridge and TIFT dedicate themselves to pushing the boundaries of traditional theatre and are thrilled to bring this double-bill to the Five Points Theatre.  

Herringbone by Tom Cone leads the double-bill in what renowned journalist Christopher Dafoe describes as a “one-man show to end all one-man shows”. Written in a time when Canadian theatre revolved around naturalistic family dramas, Cone emerged with a revolutionary mindset that explored existential, raw, and boundary-breaking narratives. Herringbone is a deeply personal journey of trauma that blends elements of musical theatre and comedy that only a truly outstanding performer could deliver.  

“When I first read Herringbone, I knew it was a vehicle for a virtuoso actor and I immediately imagined Mike Nadajewski” says Trowbridge. He adds, “Mike [Nadajewski] is all at once a comedic genius, a virtuoso singer, and a deeply complicated and curious actor. He is a singular talent who is more equipped than anyone else in the country to tell this story.”

Herringbone is the story of George whose family’s finances are devastated after the Great Depression and his parents sacrifice him to the vaudeville circuit to make ends meet. Over a 25-year career George becomes a living legend, but one night he has had enough and proceeds to spontaneously expose his parents for what they have done.

The Yalta Game is written by Brian Friel and adapted from the short story “The Lady with the Dog” by Anton Chekhov. Chekhov was one of the most distinguished figures in Russian theatre whose work illustrated the themes of yearning and longing for adventure, which are driving motives in The Yalta Game. Trowbridge explains, “The Yalta Game is about releasing the shackles of ordinary life and exploring thrilling new territory in both the real and imagined world.”

During a vacation in Yalta, a resort city on the Crimean Coast in the Ukraine, Dmitri and Anna meet and immediately find themselves profoundly connected to one another. As their romance swells and they yearn to be with each other, they fear what repercussions their amorous dalliance will have on their lives and on their spouses.

Navigating the space between infidelity and genuine love is complicated territory and Trowbridge explains “before the play begins [Dmitri and Anna] are entrenched in a lonely existence and yearn to escape the ordinary.” He explains that “this is a play about imagination and these characters leave reality behind so [that] they can exist together on an imaginary plane – to profoundly connect in an imaginary world rather than in the real one.”

Herringbone and The Yalta Game offer an evening of masterful storytelling, artistry and reverie, presenting the power of imagination to break free from the shackles that hold us back from becoming the best versions of ourselves.

Full credits:
Written by Tom Cone
Starring Mike Nadajewski
Directed by Dylan Trowbridge
Music Direction by James Smith
Set Design by Joe Pagnan
Lighting Design by Jeff Pybus
Costume Design by Laura Delchiaro
Written by Brian Friel
Adapted from the short story by Anton Chekhov
Starring Mike Nadajewski
Featuring Madelyn Kriese
Directed by Dylan Trowbridge
Set Design by Joe Pagnan
Lighting Design by Jeff Pybus
Costume Design by Laura Delchiaro

Preview begins January 23, opens on January 24 and runs to February 1, 2020
Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and a matinee at 2pm on Saturday February 1.
Five Points Theatre
1 Dunlop Street West
Barrie, ON

For Media Inquiries:
Richard Varty
Director of Outreach
Talk Is Free Theatre
705-792-1949 ext. 123

Presented by:
Joan & Bob Gilroy
Season Partner:
Brock Medical Malpractice Law PC
TIFT gratefully acknowledges operating funding from:
Canada Council for the Arts
Ontario Arts Council
The City of Barrie
Ferndale Trim & Doors
The Barrie Advance