The adoption of web and mobile technologies has revolutionized many aspects of our lives. MSM [men seeking men] presented by lemonTree Creations as part of the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival examines how gay dating and hook-up culture has been influenced by online platforms.
The show is a piece of stylized dance-based verbatim theatre conceived and directed by Indrit Kasapi and performed by eight dancers; Cole Alvis, Aldrin Bundoc, Corrado Cerruto, Andrew Hartley, Ryan G. Hinds, Louis Laberge-Côté, Cyril Limousin, and Nico Racicot.
The company started with transcripts of online conversations between men who seek other men and used layering and repetition of choreography to create interpretive scenes based on the transcripts and performed to a soundtrack provided by a DJ spinning live (DJ Scooter).
Those of us who’ve used online dating sites and mobile apps in the hope of finding love (both the genuine kind and the kind said with air quotes) will find much of the material either hilariously or depressingly familiar.
While sprinkled with humour throughout, the overriding tone of the piece is kind of stark and bleak. The dancers move about the stage struggling to make a real connection to each other. Some scenes are downright Kafkaesque and seem to point to the underlying futility and inherent ridiculousness of online dating/hookup culture and how we succumb to it anyway to satisfy our base animal instincts.
The significance of the representation of beautiful men of all sizes, shapes and colours in the cast is not lost on me. This is not your typical boring lineup of pretty white gay boys and it’s so satisfying to see a representation of a wider swath of the glorious diversity of gay men in our community. I’m glad the creators chose to address race and made it a subtext of the show since online dating/hookup sites are one of the last remaining refuges of the kind of virulent, ugly racism you rarely see anywhere else.
Overall, I found the show fascinating and enjoyed it but I also acknowledge the fact that the piece is somewhat esoteric and not everybody will find accessible. If you generally don’t like abstract, non-linear, movement-based pieces this probably isn’t the show for you. However, if the subject matter piques your interest take a chance and see MSM [men seeking men]. It’s a dark, funny, sexy and fascinating examination of gay online hookup culture.
- MSM [men seeking men] plays at the Randolph Theatre, Venue 4 (736 Bathurst St.)
- Show times: July 04 07:00 PM, July 05 01:45 PM, July 07 05:15 PM, July 09 05:00 PM, July 11 12:00 PM, July 12 09:15 PM, July 13 02:15 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at the Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W, July 3rd-14th, noon – 10pm (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows