Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: (Toronto) MSM

                                                       (photo by Alejandro Santiago)

MSM A Great Achievement
by Beat Rice

Premiering last summer at the Toronto Fringe, MSM has been remounted into a full production at the Winchester Street Theatre for World Pride 2014. The show is a physical exploration of the world of online interactions of Gay men. Behind the profile pictures and abbreviated instant message jargon, there is desperation, desire, adventure and misadventure.

This brave project, conceived by Indrit Kasapi has eight males in the cast, accompanied by DJ John Caffery who mixes some incredible beats. The never-ending house music provides a pulsating energy that also underscores some text: through the piece we hear actual profiles and chats presented as monologues and dialogue.  These things are always more hilarious read aloud. Having an online presence often encourages one to be extremely straightforward about their wants and needs. The ‘forum’ provides one less barrier in meeting new people, and the context for chatting is predetermined as soon as you log in. Having a Username provides anonymity and mystery, which can double as a turn on and also something to hide behind.

The choreography, created by Kasapi and the Company is varied. At times it is frisky and fun, and at others violent and hard to watch. There is a sense of vulnerability and loneliness that comes with looking for love.

Joe Pagnan’s lighting and set design creates a hot and sweaty atmosphere. Hazy warm sidelights and small handheld lamps that performers manipulate to isolate each other created some beautiful images of the ensemble.  

In a quiet, calm moment, one of the performers approaches the microphone and with utmost sincerity delivers a short monologue in which he reveals a realization; that during all this time, searching for available men in his vicinity to hook up with, he was really looking for himself. It felt like the right moment to end the show, this was the resolution we were all waiting for. Instead, a ten-minute scene of more choreography followed, making the entire ending feel drawn out and inconclusive. It was a beautiful scene but it just felt like it was in the wrong place. 

The remount of MSM is a great achievement, I could not help but feel like more could have been explored in more depth. I enjoyed it for what it was but found it hard to make a connection with the men whose conversations were shared. The company has scratched the surface of something really special and worth investigating. 

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