Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: (Toronto) The Urinal Dialogues (Fringe)

Follow the yellow drip road, they say.
Or don’t.
by Dave Ross

Within the first ten minutes of this hour-long play, I was ready to walk out. The Urinal Dialogues bills itself as inspired by The Vagina Monologues. Well, search me as to how. It bills itself as sometimes funny, sometimes poignant. I’ll give them amusing – I think I heard a chuckle or two, but poignant? Nope.

The general premise is that there is a code in the men’s bathroom: we don’t talk; we don’t look at each other’s cocks (but really, we do – everyone gets one glance. It’s an unspoken part of the code). And yes, the code is strange. But the entire 60 minutes is based on challenging this code, and it just. doesn’t. work. There are two attempts at depth made in the script, but they are so clichéd and heavy-handed as to leave one feeling they have been bludgeoned about the head with an after school special. Two men are robbed at the urinals, but one of the men refuses to be robbed - he’s just back from his second tour and he knows death, he’s seen a gun and can tell this robber isn’t committed. In fact, perhaps the robber should kill him, especially after he begs the robber to kill him, to do “one good thing” with his life, because “it’s not murder, it’s mercy.” I don’t normally include spoilers, but the absurdity of this situation just cannot go unmentioned. 

There is little to no direction apparent, sound and lighting cues are mistimed and awkwardly obvious, and result in a completely disjointed experience. An original song of complete nonsense is played incessantly between scenes, regardless of whether its tongue-in-cheek content matches the scene that preceded it (see Absurd Urinal Robbery above). The script, such as it is, smacks of a vanity project that should never have left the basement rec room laptop it was hammered out on. The set appears to have been given slightly more thought than the script, which is saying something. 

But it’s not all bad. Whenever I leave a show, I try to find at least one good thing. In this case, I learned my new watch has a glow-in-the-dark face – all the better to watch these 60 minutes drip…drip… away.

July 3 - 13

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