MSM [men seeking men] (lemonTree Creations) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

9018890275_5f590d82e3_oThe 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.

Details:

  • 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

4 thoughts on “MSM [men seeking men] (lemonTree Creations) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. “This is not your typical boring lineup of pretty white gay boys…”

    How interesting that you support this play’s diversity while presenting your own discriminating thoughts. Why taint this beautiful piece of work with your own prejudice?

    1. No prejudice at all. I’m merely alluding to the fact that it’s still incredibly rare to see representations of people of colour in mainstream gay media which is still very much obsessed with images of PWGBs.

  2. Brock, it’s pretty clear the performers and creators of MSM are taking pains to combat the “pretty white gay boy” phenomenon. It’s a relatively well known thing in all gay circles but ESPECIALLY theatre and film, so why accuse of the reviewer of prejudice when he is accurately identifies one of the driving forces that makes this show special?

    Saw it last night and found it painfully haunting.

  3. I guess I just prefer my celebrations to exist without negativity. If a performance was to put on a show with only PWGBs – whatever that means to this critic. Would Wayne walk in thinking ‘oh god, not again!’ or would he be able to see the performers for all that they are and not just the ‘colour’ of their skin?

    Hate crimes specifically begin with a focus on one characteristic of a person instead of focusing on them as a whole. Though I’m not attempting to make the dramatic leap that this is a hate crime. I’m merely suggestion that if we’re to work towards progress, then ensure that it’s for all instead of oppressing one subset for another’s gain.

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