Friday, July 5, 2013

review: (Toronto) MSM - Men Seeking Men (Fringe)

Indrit Kasapi (concept and direction)
Dating through dance: A cynic’s guide
The world of online hook-ups has never seemed more honest – or ugly
by Christian Baines
A movement piece about an activity that no longer requires us to move, MSM (Men Seeking Men) explores the murky, degrading world of online Gay dating. And it doesn’t get much murkier than what’s currently rotating on stage at the Randolph Theatre.
No, really. If there’s a piece of theatre that leaves its audience wanting to destroy the Internet in a blaze of righteous, old-school fire, MSM is probably it. Ugly, mechanical and profoundly – one supposes, deliberately – unerotic, it shows the sheer indignity of what we often subject ourselves to in the world of digital dating (that extends to you, Grindr and co!).
MSM is certainly not a show for all tastes. Indeed, it’s often off-putting. But it is a refreshingly honest and revealing take on its subject matter. It does a wonderful job choreographing the infuriating trivialities that have come to dominate gay dating and even gay culture in the broader sense. Its performers are on point and commit to the piece with infectious energy and a fearless sense of self-deprecation. 

Keep in mind that while you might admire their grace, their characters are unlikely to win you over with sparkling personalities. To be blunt, you’ll want to kill them. An early exchange within the piece illustrates just how absurd and annoying a conversation dominated by ‘LOL’ can be. Almost as annoying as overhearing a conversation in which the word ‘like’ is abused every 4-5 words throughout a sentence. Yet when they do show vulnerability, longing, or even the frustrations of their self-defeating shallowness, it brings the work to some deeply involving and satisfying peaks. We feel sorry for these guys in much the same way one might sympathize with a drug addict.
It’s fascinating to see a piece inspired by hook-ups play with such cool detachment onstage. Can passion ever truly exist with the digital beast obstructing its way? I can’t bring myself to be quite so cynical. 
Don’t worry hopeless romantics. At least one couple will find true love before the show logs off.
MSM plays July 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13 at Randolph Theatre
Duration: 60mins

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