Play in one long act by David Freeman, premiered at the Factory Theatre, Toronto, February 5, 1971, directed by Bill Glassco, designed by Peter Kolinsky, featuring Victor Sutton, Robert Coltri, Steven Whistance-Smith, Frank Moore, Len Sedun, Kay Griffin, Bert Adkins, Christina Zorro, Bernard Bomers and Mark Freeborn. Subsequently performed across the country, including at Centaur Theatre and Theatre 3, and abroad including off-Broadway. Creeps was also the first play to be performed at Tarragon Theatre, eight months after its premiere. It won the Chalmers Award and the New York Drama Desk Award. In 2017 it was produced by Realwheels in Vancouver, with three actors with disabilities, winning three Jessie Richardson Awards, including outstanding production by a small theatre.
Four disabled men work in a sheltered workshop doing mundane work; they escape to the washroom, the setting for the play, whenever they need some privacy from the female supervisor. Here they share their feelings and vent their hatred for their institutionalized environment, and for charities which support it, and to smoke and gossip. Outside a woman patient screams, begging for a priest. The dialogue is occasionally interrupted by a telethon/circus brought courtesy of the Shriners (one of the organizations the four men despise) to help "these poor blunders of God." The savagery of the author's uncompromisng and sardonic dialogue propels much of the piece. David Freeman himself had cerebral palsy, and coached the actors for the first production so that they would not be seen to mimic the disabilities associated with the condition. The play also has an educational function: to inform the audience about the causes and symptoms of CP.
The reviews for the premiere and the subsequent Tarragon revival were near unanimous. Nathan Cohen (Toronto Star) called the work "ferociously funny," adding, "...Freeman treats his people as people, showing how in their world there is humour in abundance, and things can be hugely comic." Urjo Kareda (then of the Toronto Star) said, "...Freeman handles his material triumphantly."Herbert Whittaker (Globe and Mail) said, "May all [Tarragon's] playwrights be as talented as Freeman." The New York production fared slightly less well with Walter Kerr of the Times calling the work, "Interesting but not quite resolved as either document or drama."
Last updated 2017-06-28