Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Stalled (Fringe)

Waiting For More than Cliché
by Ramya Jegatheesan

A man gets stuck in a dirty bathroom stall. It’s the Toronto bus terminal, and it ain’t pretty. Chaos reigns as an endless parade of wild and zany characters dance, fight and proselytize their way through the men’s bathroom. Cue urinal conversions and confessions, clowns and a cartwheeling security guard with a nose for sniffing out potheads. 

Stalled is a series of slapstick sketches. It is weird, vulnerable and often funny; filled with the kind of bizarre revelations you might imagine happening behind the closed doors of a bathroom. The cast is spirited and their energy infectious. They switch between multiple characters with ease and skill. Ashley Steeves was a standout with her hilarious physical acting. So was Eric Regimbald as the too-proper man who has street food assisted orgasms in the privacy of the bathroom stall. 

But Stalled has one too many catfights and choruses of ‘dudes’, and the blonde is way too blonde. It is an entertaining hour of slapstick comedy, but at times it felt like a parade of endless caricatures. When will the blond jokes and catfights finally tire themselves into a permanent retirement? Funny does not have to equal cliché. The premise is promising: the bathroom stall is a place of secrecy, privacy and exposure. It is a baffling place. But when the stock characters don’t surprise us, when they play the same old hackneyed tunes, can they really move us? 

Stalled is at the Toronto Fringe

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