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Theatre Passe Muraille‘s 501: Scenes include Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Justin Many Fingers and Bob Nasmith.

Aviva Armour Ostroff

Diehard walkers must be the only Torontonians who don't despise streetcars.

These hell-red monsters grind down the city's major arteries, ensnaring cyclists in their tentacle-like tracks and impeding drivers. And those who actually have to ride in the belly of the sluggish, smelly behemoths have it worst of all.

Now, Theatre Passe Muraille is taking on streetcars as its fall season about Toronto nears the end of the line. The 501: Toronto in Transit, which collects overheard conversations from the streetcars that run along nearby Queen Street, is not as boosterish as expected. Rochdale College survivor Bob Nasmith narrates in an amiable mumble, telling 501 anecdotes that turn into tangents about renovation jobs, the $100,000 he lost at the track, and the time he was pepper-sprayed by the cops after refusing to disembark. (He seems to think this was fair.)

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Co-creators Justin Many Fingers and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard fill in the gaps with brief sketches of (mostly) obnoxious riders – racist old men, gay bashers and cellphone screamers. It lacks polish, but, at 65 minutes, at least it moves faster than the 501 itself.

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