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Fringe Review: Be a Man

May 16, 2013
By

IMAG0051RibbitRePublic Theatre’s Boygroove (2005) was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen at the Orlando Fringe: a sendup of a seemingly one-dimensional subject (boy bands) that revealed layers upon layers of motivation and semiotics. The Canadian company’s Be a Man (which actually predates Boygroove) is almost identical when it comes to structure, with a four-man ensemble performing a rapid-fire series of short skits and monologues. In this case, though, it’s the topic that’s deep and the treatment that’s disappointingly shallow.

Taking it upon themselves to examine what it means to be male, the Ribbit boys mostly settle for the answer that we’re glorified shaved apes who like sports, pussy and stuff that blows up. Now, I’m not taking issue with any of that (although I’d claim personal exception to the “sports” part, unless you could find a way to combine it with the stuff blowing up). But after what seemed like the ninth scenelet in a row that involved the impulsive discharge of bodily fluids, I was close to humming “Is That All There Is?” And what kind of fella does that?

The show just feels underthought, and in some cases uncomfortably familiar: A running gag about intrepid sperm is pure Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask, while a monster-truck joke has been lifted almost verbatim from The Simpsons.

Fortunately, actors Lorenzo Damiani, Tyler Girard, Antony Hall and Corey Schmitt are charming enough to retain our allegiances no matter how boorish the business gets, and they barrel energetically through aspects of the script that might confuse U.S. audiences (like who Kim Mitchell is, and why everybody appears to have health insurance). I simply would have liked to have seen some more nuanced musings — like the play’s framing monologue, in which a devoted boyfriend (Schmitt) accompanies his girlfriend to the abortionist’s but fails to be rewarded for his loyalty in the way he expected. The script leaves it up to us to decide if his lamentations connote genuine heartbreak or merely oblivious narcissism. I decided to go with the former; I guess it’s just a guy thing.

Note: This review is based on a preview performance that the press was invited to attend.

Be a Man

RibbitRePublic Theatre (Edmonton, AL, CA)

Rating: M (Nudity, Language, Strong Sexual Content)

Run Time: 60 minutes

Pink Venue

$11

Genre: Comedy-Drama

Websites –  www.RibbitRePublic.com

Show Times:

Fri, May 17 2013, 11 p.m.

Sat, May 18 2013, 10:15 p.m.

Sun, May 19 2013, 4:30 p.m.

Wed, May 22 2013, 11:15 p.m.

Fri, May 24 2013, 8:30 p.m.

Sat, May 25, 9:45 p.m.

Sun, May 26, 4:30 p.m.

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  • simon hawkley

    On one hand you call the show shallow, on the other you talk of nuanced musings.
    You also lie when saying “the ninth scene in a row involving discharge of body fluids”
    I take offence to this review, I saw this preview today and you are completely off the mark.

  • john walters

    Completely disagree! This show had energy, sensitivity and hilarity. All I have to say is wow. I haven’t seen a show like this for years.

  • Steve Schneider

    ” I simply would have liked to have seen some MORE nuanced musings…”; “But after what SEEMED LIKE the ninth scenelet in a row that involved the impulsive discharge of bodily fluids…” — (Emphases mine.) No “lies” here, folks.

  • simon hawkley

    Nevertheless, a good reviewer doesn’t use similes and vauge comparisons. After hearing the buzz for this show, it most definitely seems like you had a preconceived disposition against them.

  • Susan Patrick

    Heartbreaking and hilarious.

  • Steve Schneider

    It’s not a critic’s fault if a reader has trouble comprehending a fairly straightforward piece of writing … like somehow reading a “preconceived disposition against” the company into a review that establishes at the very outset that another of their works was one of the very best shows I’ve ever seen at this festival.