Hamilton’s Theatre Aquarius hosting world première of ‘The Extinction Therapist’


Published January 20, 2023 at 6:10 pm

Humour is both a way to cope and find hope, and a play whose world première unfurls next week in downtown Hamilton is taking that theme on what is touted as an “amusing and sometimes gasp-worthy roller coaster ride.”

Theatre Aquarius has announced that some of the best comic performers in Canada grace “The Extinction Therapist,” a new play penned by W.O. Mitchell Award-winning scribe Clem Martini open. Its official opening night is at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 (one week from Friday), and runs until Feb. 11. The cast features Son Of A Critch cast member Richard Clarkin, a Canadian Screen Award winner, as the titular Dr. Dennis Marshall. Hamilton-based multidisciplinary artist Karen Ancheta also plays a starring role.

Director Christine Brubaker, who has directed more than 25 world premieres, says the situation involves “creatures on the brink of extinction grappling their way to their pending oblivion through group therapy … the characters are hilarious, tender and fiery — and the circumstances are completely zany.”

The support group that Clarkin’s Marshall leads includes a libidinous woolly mammoth, a testy short-eared shrew, the uncompromising smallpox virus, an insecure Tyrannosaurus rex, and a hapless Minister for the Environment.

The cast features:

  • Clarkin plays Dr. Marshall, whose own baggage gets mixed in with his unique patients. Clarkin plays Dick Dunphy on Son Of A Critch, the semi-autographic CBC comedy series led by Mark Critch. Clarkin was selected as best supporting actor (film) at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards for his work in The Drawer Boy.
  • Rebecca Northan as Woolly Mammoth-Joan Moreau. Northan, a Canadian Comedy Award winner, has had a long theatre career as an actor, creator, and assistant director. Her on-screen work includes the sitcom Being Erica and the comedy film The Rocker, which starred Rainn Wilson (best known as Dwight Schrute from The Office).
  • Ancheta, a Filipina-Canadian who lives in Hamilton, portrays Nelson’s Short-Eared Shrew. Ancheta is the artistic director and co-founder of Porch Light Theatre Hamilton. Ancheta has worked extensively in live theatre and film, and has worked to boost Indigenous, Black, and racialized artists in Hamilton. Ancheta earned a Hamilton Arts Award 2021.
  • Anand Rajaram portrays Smallpox Virus. Rajaram, who is a returning performer at Theatre Aquarius, has had a hand in multiple comedy revues at Toronto Second City. His film and TV work also include the legal comedy Suits.
  • Christopher Stanton as Tyrannosaurus rex. Stanton is a Hamilton-based director, performer, composer, and educator, who has been the festival director of Hamilton Fringe since 2020. He is a two-time winner in the Dora awards, which recognizes achievement in the Toronto theatre world.
  • Brandon McGibbon as Glen Merrick, aka the Minister for the Environment. McGibbon previously performed in front of Aquarius audiences in Ring of Fire and Blood Brothers. The seasoned actor has appeared in over 30 television shows, including Star Trek Discovery and Pretty Hard Cases.

The playwright, Martini, has penned 30-plus plays and is the author of 13 books. The latter includes the W.O. Mitchell Award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness, The Unravelling, and The Comedian.

Director Brubaker has worked on stages across Canada, including the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Festival, and Charlottetown Festival. She specializes in adaptations and new works. She has also been a co-writing on original works. One of them, HenryG20, is described as “a digital contemporary adaptation of Henry V that speaks to global capitalism and the protest movement.”

Located at 190 King William St., Theatre Aquarius has been a home of professional theatre in Hamilton for more than 47 years. Further information about The Extinction Therapist and tickets to the play are available at theatreaquarius.org.