REVIEW: Squeamish is the literal sentiment invoked by this expertly executed one-act

The public is exposed to the sequelae experienced by a psychotherapist after the suicide of her nephew

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When I was in 6th grade, there was a house of horrors at my elementary school.

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It’s not a metaphor. There was a real house of horrors in the school gymnasium on Halloween. Born when black-and-white television was still a thing, the series was not a sophisticated affair. I remember paying a penny to be escorted to the stage at the end of the gymnasium, and climbing the creaky side steps into a mysterious backstage area where thick curtains and dim lighting combined to send my nervous system into a state of high alert. .

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I was sweating profusely. (It was actually a daily occurrence, but being scared only made it worse.) Another student who so far had posed no threat tied a blindfold on my head, grabbed my hand (also sweaty) and pulled me towards what was advertised as a bowl of eyeballs. I knew it wasn’t a bowl of eyeballs, but more likely a pile of peeled grapes nestled in the middle of ice cubes. But this knowledge did not help me at all. I was quite terrified.

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That experience came back to me at the premiere of Squeamish – the Northern Light Theatre’s season opener which runs until November 5 at the ATB Financial Arts Barns. Directed by Trevor Schmidt (who also did the set and costumes), the 90-minute first act features Davina Stewart in a solo performance.

« A horrifying monologue about the aftermath of a suicide that will likely wring your innards and disrupt your sleep, » reads the NLT website’s description of the play by American horror master Aaron Mark. « Consider yourself warned. »

Well, that pretty much sums it all up. I left the theater feeling like that classmate from long ago had held my hand in that bowl of frozen eyeballs while hissing wetly in my ear for 90 minutes. It wasn’t just the constant feeling that something bad was about to happen that was disturbing, but parts of my body, including my tongue (tongue has a major role in Squeamish) felt strange to me. It may have been the same for the man who loudly ran out of the theater about 75 minutes into the performance.

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Squeamish tells the story of Sharon, a New York psychotherapist, who has a disturbing experience after attending the funeral of her 24-year-old nephew. After the service, Sharon spends time with the nephew’s girlfriend, Cara (Stewart also voices a selection of other characters from the play). Something about Cara soothes and comforts Sharon, who finds herself drawn to exploring an alternative approach to Sharon’s extensive mental health issues.

Audiences get the impression that these mental health issues involve blood when Sharon reacts, shall we say, strongly after a bloody mosquito bite. She is hemophobic. And even …

Stewart is one of the best actresses in town, and she’s in top form as Sharon, an anxious, fast-talking recovering alcoholic who arrives on her own therapist’s couch in a terrible state when she returns from school. funeral. As an audience member, it is enough to simply marvel at Stewart’s ability to remember so many lines delivered with such feverish emotion. But without ever leaving the couch, she also takes the audience to a place they might not want to go.

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Schmidt makes an art, yes, of drawing on a small canvas and in Squeamish he does it again, and beautifully. Its decor is darkly elegant, with autumn leaves strewn at the actor’s feet and a small black lamp next to the therapist’s towering couch offering a point of salvation. Lighting designer Chris Dela Cruz reveals Stewart according to his mood, which goes from desperate to oddly grounded. It’s as if a painting had come to life, only to withdraw at the end of the play, in a disturbing immobility.

It has to be said – Squeamish kicked the house of horrors pants.



Written by Aaron Mark, directed by Trevor Schmidt and starring Davina Stewart

When Until November 5, including a Directors’ Circle and discussion events on October 23 and 27

Where In the Studio Theater at ATB Financial Arts Barns, 10330 84 Ave.

Tickets From $37 at

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