Review: Stroke of Luck with Jacques Lalonde, Havana Restaurant (Vancouver Fringe)

Buy tickets (show at Havana Restaurant Theatre):

Jacques Lalonde surpasses our expectations, and he makes everything about strokes and especially stroke recovery as funny as he does with just about everything (and when something is not outright funny, it’s usually very moving). 


Jacques spent the day before his stroke (which occurred on July 1, 2013) helping several friends move, so one reason the stroke caught him off-guard is that he thought he was just experiencing some muscle aches and tiredness from that. Although Jacques did not say this himself, we know that the goodwill that Jacques has built up over decades is what made his fundraiser and Indiegogo campaigns for recovery expenses so successful. 

Jacques talked about the therapists and rehabilitation experts and doctors who helped him so much (and about when they really failed him too). Message: Don’t be afraid to speak up to someone wearing a smock. 

Jacques periodically and lightheartedly referred to this production as a “message play”. Yet, it’s also a hilarious standup routine (how many works combine a message play with standup comedy, juggling, tennis,and gospel singing all in a natural, flowing way–I’m pretty sure this one is unique). I’m sure this presentation of a message is way more effective than a stern and moralizing lecture. If you take your blood pressure three times over a couple months at Shoppers Drug Mart, and the top number keeps going up (even past 200), pay attention and get to a doctor now (not some indefinite time in the future)! Get medical care immediately if you suspect a stroke; if treated quickly within minutes, the stroke sufferer might not even have any lasting injury.

Jacques always makes his work look effortless, whether he’s juggling, or singing, or impersonating Jean Chretien. When he is talking throughout the play, he is conversing with us in the audience. He makes eye contact with audience members and makes you feel like you are part of it. It feels fresh and spontaneous. But you can be sure that Jacques worked very hard to make it all look so easy, not even mentioning how much work he has done to recover from the stroke-induced deficits. 

This is the first time I remember Jacques mentioning science and math in a play, and he makes it fun, interesting, and accessible. I know from the experience of friends and family that the brain can recover from many injuries–it has so many pathways for recovery, and previous beliefs that a brain injury survivor had only two years of recovery time have been shown to be absolutely wrong. Not everyone who experiences a stroke will have as positive a result as Jacques has had; it was very scary for him to learn that 1 out of 6 stroke patients die. But if you do have a stroke, there is an awful lot that can be done and that you can do to make yourself better. Jacques is driving, juggling, singing, and puppeteering again.

I have always had a strong feeling of positivity from Jacques and his work. Stroke of Luck exemplifies this positivity (but not at all in a Pollyanna way or a woo-woo nonsensical way). 

So yes, go and see this play at the Havana Restaurant. So glad to see you back doing what you do, Jacques!

Remaining performances:
Tuesday Sep 9 2014   9:30 PM
Thursday Sep 11 2014  6:00 PM
Saturday Sep 13 2014  6:15 PM
Sunday Sep 14 2014  1:00 PM


Although not related to Jacques’ play, I think some might find this event interesting, if you are interested in neuroscience or want to know more about the brain:

Latest Brew in Neuroscience Research

  • Sep 9, 7-9 pm
Railway Club
Join us for a friendly and informal discussion on the latest in brain research with some of UBC’s best neuroscience students. Everyone is welcome!



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