VGL 5’4″ TOP (Lucas Brooks) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

VGL_Top

Taking Measure of the Gay Dating Scene

Jock, bear, daddy, twink – the lexicon used by the gay male population to describe each other’s physical attributes is a rich and varied one. But as playwright and performer Lucas Brooks points out in his play, VGL 5’4’’ TOP, these labels often serve to exclude members of the homosexual population rather than attempt to create any sense of community.

“Bitchiness,” notes Brooks in his play which is currently running at The Tarragon Theatre Solo Room, “is an art that gays have cultivated for generations.”

Framed around the premise of filling out an online dating profile, VGL 5’4’’ TOP is a no-holds-barred autobiographical recollection of Brooks’ past dating (or simply fornicating) triumphs and tribulations.

“Sex has tainted my capacity for affection,” laments Brooks.

This play succeeded where many others of the same genre faltered. The pacing was focused and the writing for this one man show was exceptionally strong. Its narrative was filled with heartbreaking candid confessions of Brooks’ own dating nightmares as well as personal musings on the hypocrisy of the mythical all-inclusive gay community. And while the self-segregation of the gay population is nothing groundbreaking in the media or popular culture, Brooks’ take on this phenomenon was refreshing and poignant thanks to his charming delivery and unabashed willingness to almost bare it all (both figuratively and literally) for his audience.

Reviewer’s note: you really can’t go wrong with a cute boy on stage in his undies.

It should be noted that, although the theme of this Toronto Fringe entry centred on social acceptance, the tone was neither preachy nor unbearably dry. Living up to its billeted description as a comedy, VGL 5’4’’ TOP’s humour was at times raunchy and salacious, but always well-crafted and on point.

“I’ve often been asked what outfit my [bum] would be most likely to wear. Duct tape.”

The climax of the performance was a call for action to all members of his community, where, despite their many superficial differences, gays have something worth fighting for – the right to love, marry, and be treated as equals by not only their own community but also by society at large. And, urges Brooks to all gay men, the importance of this struggle is something worth setting aside all petty differences and uniting for.

If you only have the opportunity to see one gay-themed play during this year’s Toronto Fringe, VGL 5’4’’ TOP should definitely a primary contender.

Note: “VGL” is an acronym often used in many gay social networking sites to denote somebody who is Very Good-Looking.

Info:

VGL 5’4″ TOP is playing at the Tarragon Theatre’s The Solo Room (30 Bridgman Ave.)

Play Length: 60 Minutes

Performances

  • Thursday, July 4 at 7:45 p.m.
  • Friday, July 5 at 8:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 6 at 6:45 p.m.
  • Monday, July 8 at 5:45 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 9 at 8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 10 at 4:45 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 11 at 6:15 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 14 at 3:15 p.m.

Tickets

  • Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
  • Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) and are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 EXT 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office at 581 Bloor St W (located in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s). Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.