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Review of The Lab by Theatre SKAM

by Eva Amsen

The annual Toronto Fringe theatre festival just came to an end. One of plays at the festival was “The Lab” by Theatre SKAM. It was written and performed by Matthew Payne, and the show was not in a theatre, but in a parked tractor trailer in a school parking lot in a residential street. The audience was sitting on wooden benches along the inside walls of the trailer, and the actor walked along the middle, making the entire trailer into The Lab. He played all six characters himself and distinguished them by different lights as accessories, and different accents – because just like in an a real lab, all the characters came from different backgrounds. The entire performance was carried out in the dark, because everything in this mysterious lab had to be kept in the dark, both literally (to reduce light reactivity of the experiments) and metaphorically. The main character is a student looking for a summer job in a lab. He gets the job, but the lab takes over his life. All the lab techs are scared of making mistakes, nobody knows exactly what they’re working on, and nobody ever seems to leave…

The lab references were accurate enough, apart from the made up secret experiments. We learn that liquid media is just like solid media but with the agar left out, and that you do eventually get used to looking through a microscope.

A sign at the trailer said that The Lab will also be performed at the Fringe Festival in Victoria, British Columbia, from August 24 to September 3. The Victoria Fringe program isn’t available yet, but if you’re there around that time, you should check it out.


I wrote a longer review of The Lab for The Scientist.


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