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Torch River

The Play (1999-2001)

TORCH RIVER is a woman's journey from Ireland to the Canadian prairies. A story of courage and hardship that questions our reliance on the rigid interpretation of history. Drama/Comedy complemented with Irish music (featuring Dolores Keane), dance, song and movement.

TOPICS: Irish & Women's Studies; Canadian Settlers in the Prairies; Wife/Spousal Abuse; Seniors/Elders Abandonment & Influences on future generations; Children living as Adults; and more...


the reviews

"Torch River deserves this year's Cowichan Oscar Award. Few would argue actress Shannon Jardine's gripping 'herstory'... stood out among this year's 10 plays." 10/10  The News Leader

"Directed by Terry Costa with an eye and ear to the rhythms of Irish life and music, Torch River is heartwarmingly authentic." Peter Birnie, The Vancouver Sun

"Writer-performer Shannon Jardine has crafted a moving tribute to her grandmother... the writing is rich in character detail... well worth a visit." Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

"Touching and funny. A little gem of a play." Virginia Bawlf, Arts Report - CBC Radio Victoria

"Shannon Jardine's touching tribute to the spirit of her feisty Irish grandmother Sarah, the first woman in Torch River Saskatchewan, is a nicely scripted character study. Jardine is convincing in her depiction of the era, and her own spunk shines through her grandmother's eyes." Melaney Black, Monday Magazine

"Torch River: The best drama of the entire festival. Script was tough, muscular and touching without a breath of sentimentality. Shannon Jardine's performance was an acting clinic and a riveting pleasure to watch. It was the model of solo-performer efficiency, giving impression of an entire show with only one actor and a few symbolic props. Worth seeing again and again." Frank Peebles, PG Free Press

"Powerful pioneer drama... Torch River, a captivating one-woman show about pioneer spirit and family violence..." Ruth Griffiths, Rural Roots

"Torch River was written and performed by Shannon Jardine at the Playhouse, and directed by Terry Costa. It is a fearless yet ultimately accepting view of Jardine's grandmother's life from youth to old age. Jardine does a masterful impression of a 90-year-old lady with an irish accent, as well as portraying that woman as a hopeful young bride. She provides some lovely a capella singing and graceful dancing along the way. it might be seen as a morality play that cautions you not to stay in abusive situations that are going to leave you in a state of permanent bitterness." Madeline Bruce, Prince George Citizen


"... Torch River is insightfully nuanced, witty, eloquent and touching." Kathy Cook,

"...Jardine... Costa... a team that worked well. A difficult performance but absolutely remarkable for such a young actress." Alvina Ruprecht, CBC RADIO ONE, Ottawa.

"Gritty, Funny, poignant, heartbreaking. Torch River is all that and more. A definite must-see." Paul Gessell, The Ottawa Citizen

"First you get to know the bigoted, wryly irascible, 94-year old Maggie. Then Shannon Jardine steps out of her wheelchair and out of her nightdress, reverently folding it before placing it on the wheelchair. It's a wrenching metamorphosis, watching the young woman emerge from the weary flesh of the nursing home resident. The unnerving hardship of Maggie's life early in the century, in a sort of exile on the vast Canadian prairies and trapped in a soured marriage, is told in a spare, matter-of-fact narrative of rare skill. In Torch River, Maggie - and her history - survive through the sheer strength of her character." Michael Baker, Seattle Weekly

"Jardine's performance is energetic..." Tom Spurgeon, The Stranger Magazine

"...saucy, succint piece..." "She was one tough 98-pound cookie.... Jardine leaves us hanging for 'the rest of the story.'... terse direction..." Max McQueen, Phoenix Tribune

"Torch River could hardly be more moving, absorbing, and funny, or acted with more seamless grace and passion... Jardine is an engaging, natural yet trained actress. She knows exactly how to create the highs and lows of mood and emotion without chewing the scenery. UNI Theatre's Terry Costa also deserves credit for snappy direction." The Star Phoenix, Saskatoon

"In Jardine's remarkable performance, Maggie comes to vibrant life... this is such a good performance that Torch River is one of the few occasions when a Fringe work would benefit from being longer." CBC Television

"...the performance is what makes this one-woman show worth seeing. Jardine brings this feisty survivor to fierce and restless life. The acccent is bang on and unwavering and the Irish sensibility is strong and sure." The Edmonton Sun

"Jardine slides easily through time in a show that leaves you wanting more." SEE Magazine

" outstanding and inspirational production... Jardine is a very talented and versatile actress who is able to tell the story of Maggie both with words and with her eyes. Torch River is beautifully written, with an unforgettable performance, and the direction by Terry Costa is stunning. This play is a hit and should not be missed." VUE Weekly, Edmonton

" could hear a cane drop, and many did." "It might have been my imagination, but I perceived some very shocked members of the audience." "I thoroughly enjoyed the play...masterful, thoroughly believable...well done. {Her grandmother} has become my hero." Rural Roots, Prince Albert

"Most touching performance: Shannon Jardine's Torch River... directed by Terry Costa, is the standout of this year's festival." ..."Exceedingly touching, the production moves back and forth through the difficult phases of Maggie's life like the tides of the sea. Jardine plays Maggie throughout all of the ages of her life with complete believability and sharp honesty..." "The lighting and scene changes sensitively underscored Jardine's brilliant script and performance" "Beautiful and poetic, this production shone the brightest out of all the shows in this year's festival."
The Medium, Mississauga, Ontario

"Erindale's crowd was not only 'on the fringe' but also on their feet, for a standing ovation. Torch River, a new play, one of the highlights of Erindale's On The Fringe Festival...." "The play's ability to project emotions won over the festival audiences... its ability to strike a chord with audiences may be rooted in the reality on which the play is based." Sheridan Sun, Oakville

"Jardine shifts gracefully between the three characters;... Her ability to transform herself convincingly from a gnarled old woman to a carefree girl skipping across the stage like a forest sprite, is commendable. Torch River is an inspiring tale for anyone who ever thought they couldn't succeed. It should also be required viewing for anyone who ever rolled their eyes at one of their grandparents' stories, without realizing the life and the person behind it." The Mississauga News


Writer & Performer:
Shannon Jardine

Director & Manager:
Terry Costa
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