Photo: Derek Price

Getting to Room Temperature

By Arthur Milner

At 93-and-a-half, my healthy and active mother took a turn for the worse. I accompanied her to the doctor.
Doctor: What can I do for you, Rose?
Rose: I would like to die, Doctor. Can you help me?
Doctor: No, and don’t ask me again.

Rose’s decline and polite quest for euthanasia take us on an emotional journey into grudgingly explored territory. Getting to Room Temperature is a hard-hitting, sentimental and funny one-person play about dying. Based on a mostly true story.

Canada is currently embroiled in a conversation about the right to die.  On February 6, 2015, the Toronto Star reported that an “historic and far-reaching decision of the Supreme Court of Canada declaring desperately suffering patients have a constitutional right to doctor-assisted suicide is set to reshape the agenda of Parliament if not the election this fall.” Inspired by this debate, their own experience, their need to laugh in the face of death, and respond to the questions that lie at the heart of our lives, The Room Temperature Collective set out to develop Milner’s beautiful exploration of the death of a parent.

With humour, wisdom, irony, and a deep connection to lives gone before, Arthur Milner’s new play Getting to Room Temperature invites audiences into an honest and wry conversation about aging and dying in Canada.

The provocative one-man show ... targets our sense of right and wrong. Milner, through the accessible voice of Bockstael, wraps his questions in warm anecdotes about his family, sprinkles the show with humour, and lovingly depicts his vital, opinionated mother.

Ottawa CitizenPatrick Langston

The weighty material flows through Robert Bockstael's seemingly effortless delivery weaving a believable humor with poignant remembrances and effective arguments.

Jennifer Cavanagh, Apartment 613

Bockstael controlled the mood of the audience throughout the performance with aplomb, drawing us through humour into the serious emotional business of death and back out the other side.

New Ottawa CriticsWes Babcock

Robert Bockstael is a wonderful performer and a fantastic storyteller. It’s very intimate. It was polished, it was funny ... but absolutely important to discuss, and he did a fantastic job bringing it to light. And it became a story about family, it became just about his relationship to his mother and the people around him — and a lot of light and a joy of life.

Jessica RuanoJust Another Gala (Podcast)

Production Details

1 Male, Solo Show

70 minutes, 1 Act

By Arthur Milner

Purchase Play Script

Production History

Script developed with the generous support of Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal (PWM) and the Canada Council for the Arts.
A public reading was hosted by Playwrights Workshop Montreal in October 2015 and a workshop production was presented by the room temperature collective in association with the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto in November, 2015.
First Produced at the undercurrents festival (Ottawa), February 10, 2016, Getting to Room Temperature was the hit of the festival and the best-selling show in undercurrents’ 6-year history. The production also ran for three shows at the Festival Players of Prince Edward County in July 2016.
A French translation is in development.
Nominated for two 2016 Prix Rideau Awards – Arthur Milner (Outstanding New Creation) and Robert Bockstael (Outstanding Actor).

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