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Photo: Andrew Alexander.

Theatre Review: The Ghomeshi Effect—until 10.27.2018

By Kate Carmanico on October 27, 2018

The Ghomeshi Effect is back and its message is here to stay.

After a successful premiere at The Gladstone in January 2017, the dance-theatre performance, which tackles the topic of sexual violence head-on, is making its presence known in the Ottawa theatre scene.

Written and directed by Ottawa-based artist Jessica Ruano, The Ghomeshi Effect interweaves verbatim text pulled from interviews conducted with residents of Ottawa and beyond. It tells the story of people’s experiences surrounding sexual violence, and specifically their opinions on the way it is handled by Canada’s judicial system.

L to R: Nayeli Abrego, Emmanuel Simon, Michael Swatton, Gabrielle Lalonde, Joy Mwandemange, Leah Archambault. Photo: Andrew Alexander

Ruano’s carefully collected text is intelligent and reflects a diversity of perspectives.

Ruano’s carefully collected text is intelligent and reflects a diversity of perspectives. It recounts important stories of survival; it also includes the experiences of lawyers, parents, academics, none of which are explicitly identified. It addresses the additional challenges faced by marginalized communities in the context of the legal system.

The colloquial nature of the words, spoken in both official languages, is impactful in itself. In many ways, the raw and candid experiences shared by everyday people living in our community are a lot more jarring to the ear than the legal jargon most of us are used to hearing on the news.

L to R: Michael Swatton, Nayeli Abrego, Emmanuel Simon, Gabrielle Lalonde, Joy Mwandemange, Leah Archambault. Photo: Andrew Alexander.

Delivered by a talented ensemble of performers and movers…

Driving the narrative forward is choreography by contemporary dance artist Amelia Griffin. Throughout the performance, the script is punctuated with visceral, unpredictable movements; a corporeal vocabulary putting the language used to discuss sexual violence at the forefront of the conversation. Delivered by a talented ensemble of performers and movers, the thought and complexity behind each movement captivates and, on many occasions, captures emotions that can’t be put into words.

An important and timely performance that will keep the conversation alive, The Ghomeshi Effect is a poignant and thought-provoking experience.


The Ghomeshi Effect plays at 7:30pm at the University of Ottawa’s LabO until Saturday, October 27, 2018. Each performance is followed by a talkback hosted by artists and active members of the community. Support workers are available at each performance as needed.