A review by Graeme Bacque
On May 29, 1991, Francine Nicolas was shot at least five times by her then husband, Maurice. While shooting Francine, Maurice yelled at their six children, "watch your mother, she is going to fall, and she is going to die." Francine, frightened that her children would have to see their own mother die, repeated over and over again "I will not fall." Today, Francine Nicolas is a champion wife assault survivor, activist, and public speaker. 

...The play, 'I Will Not Fall,' written by Francine Nicolas, with support from Ken Innes (song lyrics) told a horrifying story of domestic violence at its very worst... a woman shot and mortally wounded by her domineering, abusive spouse. Presented by Toronto's Friendly Spike Theatre Band, the play presented a re-enactment of the shooting (Francine's daughter was also shot and wounded) and subsequent events interspaced with courtroom sequences... while an actual police videotape was projected onto a large screen above the stage. The date (May 29, 1991) was clearly visible under the video images. 

Friendly Spike has always made extensive use of music and song in its productions, and this one was no exception... and the lyrics cut to the bone. Written by Ken Innes, and featuring some incredible solo and group vocal performances from members of Friendly Spike, the songs were, if anything, even more hard-hitting than the visual images... all in all, a powerful, disturbing piece of work. 

Francine Nicolas was in attendance at the performance, and afterwards spoke at length of her personal experiences, as well as her current efforts to educate the public on the issue of domestic violence. Also, the entire production was filmed by CBC-TV (Canada's national TV network) for future broadcast on the 'Man Alive' series... Canadian viewers, stay tuned. 

If there was one weakness, it was the fact that no followup was provided for those in attendance who were upset or disturbed by the production... I was watching the audience, and a number of people were showing considerable anguish. I'm planning on going back tomorrow night... I'll probably discuss this with members of the troupe then. I was fortunate... I was able to talk to a friend. I am uncomfortable with the possibility that some people may have walked away hurting because of this oversight. 

The Friendly Spike Theatre Band, based in Toronto, Canada, is a theatre troupe made up of psychiatric survivors and their allies, and is gaining attention for their brand of hard-hitting political theatre. Last year they staged a production entitled 'Marked, Living With A Stigma', which told the story of a woman's journey through the mental health system... and the abuses she encountered. (This group makes no effort to conceal or downplay its antipsychiatry viewpoint... which makes for a refreshing change nowadays.)