In the wave of paranoia that swept North America after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, a strange incident on a Vancouver bus sparked fear passengers had been poisoned.

The Toxic Bus Incident, Onelight Theatre’s new play, picks up where the media left off. Gary MacArthur’s play synthesizes the fallout into Helen, a woman convinced the dark-skinned man she saw on the bus released a poison. Her health is failing, but there’s no evidence of an attack.
Toxic Bus examines the media-saturated world that led Helen to expect such an attack.

“The issue is not just one person’s paranoia,” director Shahin Sayadi said yesterday. “The bigger question has become our perceptions of the news we receive and how we put that out back to society. We really didn’t want to wash it off and say this woman is paranoid and that’s it. Why shouldn’t she be paranoid? We’re not just saying it’s pure racism and that’s it.”


Whether the incident was external or internal is up to the viewer.

“I’m not a teacher, I’m a story teller. People make up their own minds,” Sayadi said.

Toxic Bus opens Friday and runs until April 24 at Neptune’s Studio Theatre. Go to or call 425-6812 for tickets.

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