One voice can be trouble enough

Mrs. Barbour's Daughters
by AJ Taudevin
directed by Joan Bryans

Vancity Culture Lab

Mary is facing eviction. Sole remaining occupant of a building due for demolition Mary is standing her ground... or rather sitting! Marooned in her armchair, dependent on her niece-cum-carer Joan, Mary is beset by memories of life in a family which for 100 years has been influenced, for good and bad, by Mrs. Barbour, leader of a rent strike in 1915.

Mary, her sister Grace and her daughter Joan, are all affected by Mrs. Barbour: she lives in their minds and in the songs that they know and the stories that have been told to them and that they tell to each other. As Mary faces eviction, we see the women try to find sisterhood and a way to live together despite past betrayals and extreme differences stemming from the legacy of Mrs. Barbour.

Vital Spark's production of Mrs. Barbour's Daughters is a North American premiere. It is part of the Vancouver Fringe's 2016 Dramatic Works Series.

Preview video on YouTube

Production Team

Assistant Director
Set Design & Properties
Costume Design
Lighting Design
Sound Design
Stage Manager
Joan Bryans
Frances Herzer
Linda Begg
Catherine E. Carr
Mimi Abrahams
Dave Campbell
Nancy Caldwell
Sandi McDonald


Old Mary
Young Mary
Middle Mary
Barbara Ellison
Ren Kennedy
Claire Love Wilson
Claire Pollock
Bethany Stanley

Voice Overs

Dave Campbell, John Harris, Helen Martin

Members from the Re:Sisters:
Karen Dean, Janet Dempsey, Janet Hall, De Whalen
Members from The Left Coast Labour Chorus:
Adrienne Drobnies, Marion Hartley, Nancy Hawkins,
Micki McCune,
Gian Ward, Letizia Waddington


Prepare to have your heart twisted with this dynamic, women-led musical.

The audience glimpses Mary at three other stages of her life: as a child, a teenager, and an adult. Through these fragmented pieces, it is clear the effect Mrs. Barbour had on Mary's youth. Instantly likeable Ellison gives an outstanding performance with the perfect blend of lively witticism and a refined grasp of tackling the tender, sometimes painful, matters. Join Mary as she battles with hindsight, and the regret and bitterness that often accompanies it.

Mary's niece, Joan, played by actress Claire Pollock, states near the play's start, "Sometimes we don't get a choice what happens in life." Later, it is revealed that Mrs. Barbour would say otherwise: "We've no need to accept things the way they are." Mary, who has seen Mrs. Barbour incite palpable change, hopelessly feels as though those days remain in the past. How will these recollections affect present day Mary?

Mrs. Barbour's Daughters inspires. Slick with comedy and shaped by history, intertwined with the voices of the divine, Taudevin proves to engage and deliver until the very end. ††At one point, women march throughout the theatre and sing...The audience is urged to join in, and the result is powerfully elevating; an unforgettable experience. If not for the story, come for this collective, chilling moment. I promise, it is worth it.

By Jenna Diamante - Plank Magazine