Bad Date: A Cautionary Tale… (Aubrey Productions) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Erin Aubrey (self-portrait)

When I was watching Bad Date: A Cautionary Tale…, produced by Aubrey Productions and playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, it occurred to me that, since I met my husband at 19, I haven’t had to go on a first date in 13 years. I certainly haven’t experienced dating where actually meeting someone in person is a novelty.

Molly (Erin Aubrey) the main character of Bad Date on the other hand, is 34 and hasn’t had sex in over a year, which leads her to text “Aleks with a k” (Christopher S. Violette) who seemed nice on set. The resulting late-night meeting at her apartment is, unsurprisingly, a truly disastrous first date/booty call, and the cringe-iest of cringe comedy. The actors are quite talented and engaging, and I’m sure this raunchy, unapologetic show will be many people’s thing. Unlike its claim about the dire need for a vibrator that doesn’t burn out, to me the show felt inessential.

I find cringe comedy to be more painful than entertaining, so that definitely coloured my enjoyment of the show. To its credit, it uses cringe quite effectively, not letting up for a moment once Aleks shows up. It’s also not afraid to embrace potentially offensive topics; there’s lots of sex, drugs, swearing and nudity featuring attractive human beings on stage.

Bad Date is a two-person show that bills itself as a musical comedy from one woman’s perspective, and it really is a one-person musical. Aleks is intrusive and bizarre, but he only sings once, purely for comedic effect, and to show how unmatched these people are. This actually adds to the discomfort, because it encourages a perception of him as a prop; it’s like the show is using him so that the lead can sing, much like the lead character eventually uses him for sex, despite her distaste for nearly everything he does (except his oral skills).

Neither character seems to be a particularly wonderful person, and this is actually refreshing. Molly’s not all good and he’s not all bad, even managing to wrest a modicum of sympathy out of the proceedings. (The date, however, is the pits. It’s still not the worst story I’ve heard.)

The quirky songs about dick pics (particularly clever) and vibrators have funny and cute moments and are well performed. A lot do tend to be variations on one joke. I felt the atmosphere grow restless during occasional pauses during the songs, and particularly during the one diagetic (music occurring as part of the actual events) slow song about a man who broke Molly’s heart twice. My lyricist heart also cringed at some slant rhymes that were not quite close enough, like “reiterate/delicate.” This being said, it’s hard to write a big, gospel-esque closing number about a sex toy for a one-woman musical, so…respect. Aubrey does have a lovely, expressive voice and is clearly game for all the physical comedy her part entails.

All in all, this is not a cautionary tale against Bad Date. If you don’t love cringe comedy, though…let’s call it a small red flag.

  • Bad Date: A Cautionary Tale… plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgman Ave)
  • Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Unsuitable for Minors, Sexual Content, Mature Language, Nudity, Smoking.
  • This venue is accessible.

Performances

  • Saturday July 8th, 12:15 pm
  • Sunday July 9th, 10:45 pm
  • Tuesday July 11th, 04:30pm
  • Wednesday July 12th, 02:00 pm
  • Friday July 14th, 09:15pm
  • Sunday July 16th, 07:45 pm

Photo of Erin Aubrey by Erin Aubrey (self-portrait)

3 thoughts on “Bad Date: A Cautionary Tale… (Aubrey Productions) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. The show was funny and worth seeing. The breaking into song was enjoyable, especially about dick pics. However, what struck me the most was that the playwright/star seemed capable of so much more. The songs and sexual content (to which I do not object) could have been woven into a much more powerful play and Aubrey is intelligent enough to do it. This play isn’t a play about a “bad date” and it isn’t a “cautionary tale”. She called a drunk man, at midnight, who had previously blown her off for a late night hookup. That doesn’t count as a “date” and it isn’t hard at all to predict how it is going to turn out.

  2. From a perspective of a single woman in her 30s who has been on this type of date many many times, I’m disappointed to read a review like this, but not at all surprised it comes from a happily married woman. Honey, you sound just like my mother.

    I really enjoyed they play for its humour and complexity. The character (much like most single women in their 30s) has a constant battle with societal expectations that they should be with someone (anyone) and the inner voice that says you’re fine being single because you do not have to settle.

    The lead female spent the first part of the play hearing all about the married and happy people in her life and feeling sorry for herself and rather annoyed. Yep! It happens all the time. But when you’re a lucky single 30 year old woman, all you have to choose from is the Alek’s of the world… the ones who turn up at 1am with no shirt on. Fight as you may with your inner dialogue, you can’t help but continue trying and ultimately concluding that you’d far rather be by yourself.

    Here’s what I wish you would have done a review on… the fact that the play wasn’t about some tiring story about a boy and girl falling in love despite the odds, which has been written a million times. This is one of the first stories I’ve seen where it depicts the reality of a certain cohort of women and this women celebrates herself as a strong alpha (yet single) female.

    We need more stories of strong women choosing to be ok on their own so that it quiets the voices of the happily married women who judge them or slut shame them… and so our relatives can stop wasting time worrying if we are ok on our own. We are just fine!! We may need a warm body once and a while, but we are just fine. We’ll continue doing our thing, being hopeful, dating the most ridiculous people alive, regretting it and then remembering how amazing our own company is and that we deserve more.

    I applaud this play for being raw and honest… and for having an elderly woman leave the play at the end singing ‘super powered vibrator’ out loud for all to hear.

    Well effing done.

  3. I wouldn’t normally go in for ‘cringe’ comedy so wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy this play, however, I found that the ‘cringiest’ parts (where I would normally shift uncomfortably in my seat) were some of the best because the lead actress Erin Aubrey would break the tension with incredibly entertaining song, giving the audience a monologue about the bizarre situations she found herself in. It seemed like a lot of people in the audience felt the same way because people would start twittering with laughter as soon as any music started.

    The lead actress has a beautiful singing voice which is such a funny contrast to the crass lyrics she’s belting out, and both actors did a fantastic job of making me neither like nor hate their characters while making me curious to see what would happen next.

    The fact that Erin Aubrey is a 30-something woman who wrote the script, music and lyrics performed makes me believe that some elements of this play were true to her real life experiences or those of her friends. So cool that she’s brave enough to sing it out loud. Unlike the reviewer, I think hearing the voices of strong “alpha females” is the opposite of “inessential”, especially when it’s delivered in such an entertaining way. Well done!

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