Reviews - Fringe 2015

Fringe 2015 Review: A Thousand Natural Shocks

By John Bandler
Published July 19, 2015

Written by Bryan Boodhoo and directed by Luis Arrojo, A Thousand Natural Shocks features a dramatic triangle of three on-stage characters, each burdened with his/her own emotional baggage. We have a young policeman, David, who is suffering from depression, we have his lonely, abused wife, Lynda, and we have David's cynical police shrink, Adrian.

Having shot an unarmed student during a physical confrontation, David is on suspension from his official duties. He sits at home, drinking himself into oblivion or into rage with himself and his wife. At a minimum he is on track for an early separation from her. He keeps a gun handy, frequently brandishing it, reliving blurred memories of his shooting mishap, for which he continually blames himself.

Yet, as a seven-year-old, David recalls, "I grew up wanting to be a hero."

Worried about her depressed husband as well as her own safety, Lynda has taken to informing on him to his shrink Adrian, in particular, begging Adrian to help David overcome his growing addiction to alcohol. Needless to say, Lynda is unhappy with David's mistreatment of her. She craves an emotional crutch. She becomes attracted to Adrian and confronts him.

"You're not my patient," Adrian tells her.

But as we are discovering, Adrian himself is no saint. Becoming involved with a patient's wife would not be a first for Adrian. Adrian is openly cynical about his career to both David and Lynda, surely a no-no in a Hippocratic profession. Having handled 994 police-department patients, he has seen everything, encountered everything.

We also learn that Adrian is coping with personal family issues. Aren't we all? One of our not-so-sympathetic shrink's problems is that he has an estranged daughter and a grandchild on the horizon from whom he is being denied access. Why? And now he is taking to the bottle himself.

As our focus shifts from David to Lynda to Adrian, we find ourselves confronted by an excellent dramatic setup. Almost anything can happen from now on. Will Lynda ratchet up her heat? Will Adrian give in to Lynda's amorous advances? And given the growing intimacy between his wife and his shrink, will our depressed David, killer of an unarmed student, surrender to alcoholism and to his own violent inclinations?

To find out, you must see this show.

But, after you see it, you might agree with me that a few golden opportunities for depicting dramatic turning points, crisis and resolution might have been missed by the writer.

John Bandler is a professor, engineer, entrepreneur, innovator, researcher, speaker, artist, and author of fiction and non-fiction. Four of his plays have been performed at Hamilton Fringe Festivals. Some of his talks and clips of his plays are available on the internet. See


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