Governor General's Literary Awards


2 hours 10 minutes


(12 characters, includes doubling)


Neuropsychologist Helen Harlow is an expert at understanding the human brain, and yet her own remains a mystery. Turning her back on a once-brilliant future filled with scientific promise, Helen attempts to escape the mess of her life by diving headfirst into a new one: living in a frat-house basement, teaching Psych 101 to clueless freshmen, and confronting both her depression and the puzzling attentions of her slacker housemate Finlay. Pushed to the brink and increasingly desperate for some semblance of normalcy, Helen finds herself in a doctor’s office looking for a change. But not everyone chooses to change. Certainly not Phineas Gage, a construction foreman in 1848 who miraculously survives an explosion that shoots an iron rod though his head. While Phineas makes an extraordinary physical recovery, he has a dramatic change in personality. Attended to and observed by the young doctor John Harlow, Helen’s ancestor, the legacy of Phineas’s dramatic story shows how far we have come scientifically, and yet how little we can comprehend of the mystery of our own hearts and minds. 



"A colourfully instructive and insightful comedy about change and new beginnings."  CALGARY HERALD

"Flashes with admirable vivacity and originality. It's an inventively told yarn that pinwheels like a firework."  VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST

"A wild theatrical romp."  Louis B. Hobson, JAM

FINALIST Governor General's Literary Awards 2014

"Cover to Cover: Janet Munsil's That Elusive Spark"  QUILL & QUIRE


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Playwrights Canada Press  ($16.95 CAD)


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  • Commissioned by the Department of Theatre, University of Victoria.

  • Produced by UVic Phoenix Theatres 2005, dir. Linda Moore

  • Development  at the Banff Centre PlayRites Colony, 2006.

  • Professional Premiere Alberta Theatre Projects Enbridge PlayRites Festival 2007, dir. Linda Moore

  • Published by Playwrights Canada Press 2014.