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Fringe Review: Puzzles

By Colin Noden on June 18, 2022

Created by Joanne Marcia John
Produced by In Character (Ottawa)
60m | 14+ | Drama

Do you like British-style mystery movies? Do you like soap operas that teeter on the verge of melodrama and have you shouting, “Just do it already!” at the screen? Do you love both? Then congratulations, you are going to love this play!

Puzzles is a mystery dressed as a drama. Just tuck that little fact in your back pocket until the end of the play, and enjoy the dramatic squeeze of tension between daughter and mother. The play hits the audience with a lot of character and story references at the very beginning of the story, then leaves them to figure out which characters and storylines are red herrings, and which are vital to the play’s conclusion.

The plot was filled with tension, to the extent that I’m sure the entire audience wanted to shout out: “just talk about it!” The opening night performance was well acted. The script was packed with detail. It is as if a three-act play was condensed to fit into 40 minutes. It put demands on the actors to time their cadence and inflections, and to plant the right hints and emotional triggers. They mostly succeeded, and I’m sure in future performances the dialogue will find the proper rhythm.

The character’s emotions, which were vital to the play, felt genuine. The room was full, and Puzzles had audience members leaning forward as the tension mounted. All indications of a good experience.


Puzzles by Joanne Marcia John is playing at BYOV – Atelier
(2 Daly Avenue) until June 26, 2022. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at