Fringe Festival Review: MAN-o-pause (a comedy)

It was painful. A last minute Fringe decision gone horribly, horribly wrong.

The premise (from the program): "a divorced gay man and a divorced straight woman compare mating rituals in this 60-minute original two-hander (if you'll excuse the expression)!"

The reality (witnessed by my very own eyes): a divorced gay man and a divorced straight woman whine, wail and whimper about failed relationships in this 60-minutes-too-long original doozie (if you'll excuse the expression)!

Okay, so it's a tad harsh. But it was an hour of my life that I will never get back.

I wanted to like this show, I really did. But at the 10 minute mark, as I watched, mouth agape, the lead (middle-aged) female screeching and whining like a four-year-old while wearing a white tutu, I gave up. It was a long 50 minutes after that.

MAN-o-pause (a comedy) is two friends (Ellen Hitchcock and Kevin Patterson) recounting, over martinis one night, past lives of lust and lovers lost. Using a variety of costumes and props, they act out the characters of each other's pasts, pasts which include failed marriages, closet homosexuality and an unhealthy amount of of man-bashing.

In short, the jokes were stale and both actors, Hitchcock especially, strained to put on a cutesy act which, given their ages and the material, proved irritating. Her sing-song sniveling grew grating fast and prancing around in a tutu, and later as a fish, did not help ingratiate her with the audience. Little acting was witnessed and, in its place, were outbursts of hokey cloak-and-daggers emotion that, unfortunately, drew more ire than sympathy. (The crowd during the performance I attended appeared to be largely comprised of the actors' friends and family. There were a lot of "ah [pause] ha [pause] ha [fullstop]"-ing going on.)

For a two-person show starring close friends, a certain level of chemistry was expected. Patterson and Hitchcock both seemed so unsettled throughout the entire run, however, they were barely listening to each other; rather, they were merely waiting for the cues for their own lines to follow. A real shame because, sometimes, even if the material is sub-par, observing the interaction between two close souls then becomes an interesting exercise in itself. That opportunity was not afforded here.

At the end of the day, MAN-o-pause was relying on two middle-aged individuals donning ridiculous outfits, prancing around as if they were decades younger and spouting clichĂŠd relationship bitterisms for laughs. See the humour? Neither did I. (Oh, and the word "fag" was also uttered repeatedly. I think that was supposed to be funny, too.)

No wonder they had to include "(a comedy)" after the title. At least I know I was supposed to laugh.

Rating: *

Remaining showtimes
Tuesday, July 11, 1:15pm
Wednesday, July 12, 9:15pm
Friday, July 14, 5:45pm
Saturday, July 15, 11:30pm

Venue 4 - Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst, at Adelaide)

The Toronto Fringe Festival features local, national and international companies at 28 venues. Tickets are $10 or less ($2 surcharge on advance tickets) and discount passes are available. Advance tickets sold up to three hours prior to showtime by phone, online or in person at the Fringe Club (292 Brunswick, at Bloor). At least half of all tickets for each performance go on sale one hour before showtime at the venue. Festival runs until July 16. Fringe Hotline: 416-966-1062.

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