Tainted Justice, written by Don Nigro, is drawn from facts surrounding a real murder mystery on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, with flashbacks to the Klondike. It’s a compelling drama by the author of Ravenscroft (a hit of our 2008-9 season.) Pearl, a troubled young woman, is haunted by doubts about who actually murdered her father in the dark woods by the cranberry bogs at twilight one August evening in 1913. Her cousin, an eccentric attorney obsessed with seeing Buster Keaton movies, defended the accused murderer. Her uncle, who loves mine shafts, was the accused man’s friend. Her mother is a beautiful and enigmatic woman from whom she has become painfully estranged. The accused murderer is a charming liar who is fascinated by antique doorknobs and insists that he once nearly married Emily Bronte in Moose Jaw.

As Pearl confronts these people, she is pulled deeper and deeper into a dark labyrinth of desire, lies and ambiguous betrayals. By turns funny, haunting, and frightening, this intricately plotted investigation into what can truly be known about other people and their motives weaves memory, testimony, and scenes of twisted confrontation into a compelling tapestry of darkness and light.



It always amazing me at what this theatre can do within the confines of such a small space. The entire cast come off extremely professional, utilizing Alexis Chubb’s stage design to the fullest. This is one production that you really need to pay attention to as it seems every character is in some way related to each other, which is often the case if you’re from small town Cape Breton. When there’s a murder involved, it gets that much more complicated.

Chris O’Bray plays Frank, the one accused of murdering Ben (Dennis Mockler), Tena’s (Katherine Anne Fairfoul) husband. Meanwhile Tena’s brother Bill Madden has a strange obsessive/possessive protective nature with her, and it’s his lawyer son Jim who’s representing Frank at the murder trial against crown prosecutor Hearn (Rob McMullan). Tena and Ben’s daughter Pearl (Jess L. Callaghan) is, like the rest of us, trying to get to the truth of it.”

Soooo….Pearl is Tena’s daughter, and Jim is Bill’s son. That makes Tena the aunt of Jim, and Bill the uncle of Pearl. It also makes Pearl and Jim cousins. Hearn is not related to anyone in this group. Confused yet?

O’Bray portrays the happy-go-lucky truth-avoiding womanizer perfectly, often answering questions with other questions, or going on a tangent to throw people off getting any real truth out of him. Mockler also gives a stand out performance as the deceased father, who we find out had suspicions about Frank right from the beginning. But were his suspicions correct? He also truly loved his wife Tena, despite the complications the couple endured while together. It’s a farcical murder mystery that will keep you sleuthing until the very end.

Kudos to the amazing women who put this all together, producers Theresa Arneaud and co-producer Diane Kurpers, as well as Director Victoria Shepherd. Original music score by John Stuart Campbell, who also played in a 90s Toronto Goth band called Sex Without Souls. It was very fitting to here his smoky-cabaret version of Gloria Jones classic, “Tainted Love” played as the audience exited the theatre after the performance.

Also, be sure to check out the lobby exhibit with more historical information on this real life story.

Watch the Trailer

Watch director Victoria Shepherd talk about the play….

Tainted Justice – March 2 to 24, 2018

The Village Playhouse Theatre – 2190E Bloor Street West, Toronto (just east of Runnymede subway). 

Tainted Justice Tickets

or call 1-416-767-7702

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment, and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors, and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats. Reach out - bryen@thebuzzmag.ca