What would the victims of Shakespeare’s heroes say if they came back from the dead to defend themselves against their murderers? Co-produced by Play it Again Productions and Theatre Smith-Gilmour, the souls of Shakespeare’s Desdemona and Ophelia are resurrected in the thrillingly grotesque performance Death Married My Daughter. Not for the faint-hearted, Ophelia (Danya Buonastella) and Desdemona (Nina Gilmour) are wild onstage personas who condemn their abusers while revealing the horrors of being a woman in a patriarchal society.

Asphyxiated and mangled, Gilmour and Buonastella take the audience’s breath away as their battered Shakespearean characters crawl onstage, traveling over 400 years to get to the Courthouse Theatre in St. Catharines. They come with good reason: to show their side of Shakespeare’s oppression. The characters begin by building rapport, charmingly interacting with the audience. Audiences laugh and cringe as the mentally and physically abused retell their deaths – this time on their own terms. They comedically unpack Freud’s Oedipus complex, impose it upon the seemingly “tortured soul”of Hamlet and a host of the world’s dominating political leaders (Stephen Harper and Kim Jong Un to name a few). With extreme physicality, brute dialogue and feral personalities, Desdemona and Ophelia break from the shackles of the past while also poking fun at modern day gender roles.

Winning 9 Dora Mavor Moore awards and nominated for the Chalmers Best Canadian Play Award, founders of Theatre Smith-Gilmour and directors of Death Married My Daughter Dean Gilmour and Michele Smith studied at the École Jacques Lecoq in France, touring around the world to 14 different countries and all around Canada. Co-founded by Nina Gilmour and Danya Buonastella, Play it Again Productions has been performing this particular piece since 2013, taking Hamilton and Toronto Fringe festivals by storm.

Death Married My Daughter demands that we unpack our adoration and praise of self-righteous guilty men – both in Shakespeare’s works and in our own political landscapes – while we ignore the stories of women. Gilmour and Buonastella are outstanding in this performance; a standing ovation was the least I could give to such strong performances. Visit the gravesite of Ophelia and Desdemona as they have one final performance of DMMD at the Courthouse Theatre today (Saturday April 25th) at 4 pm.

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