R Review – My Hogtown: Immersive Experience

If you’re looking for something to do this summer, check out Hogtown: Immersive Experience, playing at the Campbell House at 160 Queen St. West until August 20, 2017.

Hogtown Experience
All photos supplied by Hogtown Experience

The Experience

Drew Carnwath and Sam Rosenthal present a piece of immersive theatre where the audience is literally immersed into the play. Hogtown has three main story lines taking place simultaneously, allowing you to choose what you see. Kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure in real life.

…an immersive environment where the audience had the power to create their own adventure and discover the dark secrets of our city’s past.

Choosing to follow Maddy Foster’s storyline, I found myself admiring her and Libby Prowse (Canada’s first female doctor) for their spirit and forward thinking. Karen Slater’s take of Maddy was nothing short of refreshing, honest and relatable. While  Claire Frances Muir was the hero I’ve always wanted to see save the day. The casting was absolutely fantastic and you could really get a sense of how much these actors adore each other and the work they do.


Flapper girl
Karen Slater (Maddy Foster)
Libby Prowse Hogtown Experience
 Claire Frances Muir (Libby Prowse)

One particular scene, I caught by accident. One of the Women’s Temperence ladies, Pauline Drabble (Andrea Irwin), standing in the foyer with a gun in hand and a look of terror and determination on her face. Following her into the dining room, she confronted Sam McBride (Mark Prince) to avenge her husband’s death. The scene is remarkably powerful. I found myself sympathising with both Irwin and Prince.

The Takeaway

I can’t tell you much without completely giving away what happens but if they don’t stir something in you to actually do something with the time you have on this planet . . . then you are already lost. It is a true depiction of human desperation and how much we really do need one another. There are moments so unsettlingly relatable to current society that I found myself in tears when no one else was. These people were real, and some of the things they believed were so backwards but they were blind to it because of their fear.

Hogtown Experience
Mark Prince (Sam McBride), Dan Willmott (Bob Delacourt), Jerome Bourgault (Thomas Foster)

While the show is meant to explore some of the darker parts of Toronto’s history, it does a fantastic job of depicting who these people were, rather than just what they did. Hogtown made me feel a lot of things. It was shockingly reflective of the current times we live in today. Like the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s—Canada’s current prohibition of marijuana is still an issue we’re dealing with–as well as women’s rights and the pro-life/pro-choice debate, corrupt politicians, people in desperation–times are not all that different.

Hogtown Experience is the type of show that you talk about after. Whether you like history, romance, musical theatre or just a good laugh; go see this show!


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