As I walked into the back room of the Cameron House I was bombarded with engaging live music that had a Johnny Cash-type quality to it. The sound of guitars and banjos filled the room as I took my seat near the stage and I immediately knew this play would be unlike anything I have ever seen before.
The bar located at the back of the room got the party started. The drinks were poured and the play began. The Cameron House was transformed into a portal of the after-life in this Halloween-themed play.
Directed by Romana Soutus, Drink with Death takes place in purgatory, where the actors have risen from the grave to tell their stories of alcoholism, love and suicide, which have landed them in purgatory. The play starts off with an emcee (Romana Soutus) who tells the audience: “All you need to remember is that this is a bar.” The play features stories from a man who is stabbed by a whore (Christopher Weatherstone), another who drowns his sorrows in whiskey (Jaash Singh), and a female who has died from asphyxiation (Ada Dahli).
Juno-nominated musician and musical director, Christopher Weatherstone, has created music that is catchy and soulful. The performers themselves all participated in creating the music and singing it live during their performances, which gave the play that much more enthusiasm. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The ambience created in the bar of the Cameron House helped set the mood for the play. Red tables with chairs were placed in front of the stage and small candles were placed on the tables to provide an intimate setting. Although this décor was not part of the play itself, it provided the audience with a certain coziness, preparing them for their casual up-close-and-personal encounters with the deceased.
Drink with Death did very well in terms of audience interaction. Audience members were dancing with the actors and drinking free shots that were served by the actors during the play. At one point, mid-performance, Weatherstone took a chair from an audience member, who was forced to stand until the song was over.
The makeup art was very realistic and enhanced the theme of death in the play. With gashes on the characters’ necks and bloody hands, arms and faces, it was easy to get lost in the world of the play, which is one of the many reasons why this spectacular performance received a standing ovation.
Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind cabaret performance as it only runs until Oct. 30 at The Back Room of The Cameron House, 408 Queen Street West, Toronto. Tickets: $18 regular, $10 students (Children under 13 will not be admitted due to mature content.) For tickets, visit www.drinkwithdeath.com.