The all-lawyer Fringe play that's totally worth the $12 // City Brief

Watching Seana McKenna Watch Paint Dry
Precedent's new city life correspondent reviews the most lawyerly (and yet still very watchable) offering from this year's Fringe Fest

By Breann Kirincich

On Tuesday July 8th, 2014

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Lactor [lak-ter] — noun — def. a lawyer who acts- deriv. a mash-up of “lawyer” (a person whose profession is to represent others in a court of law or to advise or act for clients in other legal matters) + “actor” (a person who acts in stage plays, etc.: a person who does something; participant).

I must admit, I had not heard this particular term before, but after attending a performance of Watching Seana McKenna Watch Paint Dry at the Toronto Fringe Festival, I have come to discover a whole new thriving subculture within the Toronto legal community.

Presented by The Lactors’ Studio, a group of real-life lawyers with a passion for theatre and creativity, Watching Seana McKenna Watch Paint Dry asks the light-hearted questions: What is art? What is life?

The premise is simple: two friends attend a performance of a new play starring one of Hollywood’s hottest actresses, Seana McKenna. The show has received rave reviews and opened to sold-out audiences, but when the friends discover the play consists of nothing but watching the actress sit silently watching a painted canvass dry, it begs the question: is this really such a masterpiece after all? A disagreement ensues between them, and soon the entire audience is debating whether the piece is “art” or simply “nothing.” Insults are hurled, revelations are made and tempers flare — all designed to question the way we look at theatre.

So, to recap: it’s a play about a play… about plays. So meta, right? Maybe the medium is the message.

Written by lawyer Peter Hamiwka and novelist-slash-retired lawyer Diane Baker Mason, the play features a cast of 11 practising lawyers, many of whom have professional acting and/or improv experience. One wonders how they find the time to write and perform in plays when, judging by the lines in the PATH, most lawyers can’t even find the time to make their own lunches. Hats off to these brave, hardworking souls.

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a culture buff or a philistine, this play has something for everyone. It’s witty, well-written and well acted — particularly by Keri Bennett, who nailed her part as frustrated theatre traditionalist “Lemon.” Also, special props to “Seana McKenna” who killed it sitting motionlessly and wordlessly on a chaise lounge for an hour.  

Oh, and, did I mention it’s for charity? 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales go to Lawyers Feed The Hungry, an organization that provides meals to the hungry and financial support to charitable agencies that help with hunger relief in Toronto, London, Ottawa and Windsor. So get your do-gooder and culture quota in with one shot by checking out a performance of Watching Seana Mckenna Watch Paint Dry at the George Ignatieff Theatre at any of the following dates at times:

July 08 at 10:30 PM
July 10 at 04:00 PM
July 11 at 11:30 PM
July 13 at 01:45 PM

Tickets are available for $12 (including service charge) via www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext. 1 or at the door for $10 (cash only).


Breann Kirincich is the vice president of legal & compliance at BlackRock who maintains an active blog on the side. She enjoys cereal, Pinot Grigio and making dated SNL references, in that order.