2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 11

I don't think its a huge shock to anybody that women are crazy. You just have to read those Cosmo surveys about what women want, and then sit at the mall or the bar watching them with the men they choose. Just because a few billion women claim to think or believe something doesn't mean they actually do, and folly to the man who tries being himself or some such insanity just because women said in a magazine poll what they want. So it is as well with Inviting Desires, a fringe play made up of a bunch of women answering an online poll. After an hour hearing sexual fantasies as portrayed by the four women you remember from the fringe grounds perfomring "My Vagina is Eight Miles Wide", I would certainly testify on your behalf that you seriously believed that all women had gangbanging fantasies and that what you did that to that hot girl waiting for the light at Army & Navy was in her best interests. The play features a number of vignettes, all culled presumably from the survey: you have to watch carefully to make sure you know whats going on, sometimes the change of character has less to do with a costume tick and more to do with...um, that's exactly what I mean. Well, I guess you'll just have to follow along. Naturally of course this play near the end of the Fringe Festival is where I get stuck with the first fawning President Monkey reference: a woman's sexual fantasy about meeting an "elephant cock"'d black guy in the gym and getting pounded up the ass turns out to be all about Obama, featuring those "yes we did!" t-shirts that I assumed people had long ago thrown away in rank embarassment. Ironically enough I know a person who actually did bump into President Monkey at the gym earlier in the year. She certainly came out of the encounter a little less flushed than this play would relate. There were a couple good sketches: the "he likes to call me Daddy" bit was very enjoyable, and the woman's hippie-massage story used a great cheap special effect to simulate the pool. In general though, while you think you've explored women's sexual fantasies through the performance, what you've actually done is accepted as truth what people claiming to be women talk about on an anonymous online message board. So no, your wife really doesn't want you and another women to do naughty things to your ass.

Its hard to get a good read on Manners for Men. This is clearly resonated in the conversation I heard as leaving the venue, where some people declared it the worst play they'd seen in the fringe. I wouldn't go that far, though its certainly a very low energy play that requires your full interest before you'd be able to accept it. The play tells the story of Frank, a meek and anti-social man who suffers from several issues:
a) He has a very condesending mother who is highly critical of him and more than willing to emotionally scar him at every opportunity.
b) When he was a young boy he lost control of his bowels in school, causing him to shit all over everything and endure teasing and humiliation which continues to present day. This may be related to (a)
c) His father left him when he was 8 years old. This may also be related to (a)
d) He's facing charges for allegedly fondling himself in a shoe store, which he claims was mere loitering as he found himself unwilling to go home. This is almost certainly related to (a)

Frank tells us the story of his life. With a few laughs and what seems to be a very dedicated performance (the spastic tics of Frank's mother are as much part of her character in this one-man play as her shrill tone) we don't get a bad play, but Frank's character has a very low energy about him, and its that level that has to carry the audience through a little under an hour. Its almost an excitement when Frank's lager-drinking football fan [Editor's note: the play takes place in England] has a few lines at the bar, or when the man who handles Frank's mother's hair gives him dating advice, as we're temporarily thrust back into the real world, away from Frank's slow demeanor. As Frank's court date looms, we discover that his mother is pretty sure that (a) and (c) above are directly due to (b), and that its entirely Frank's fault what has happened to their family. As its expected, once the matter of the alleged indecent act makes it into court, Frank is cleared of the charge, though the judge basically finds him not guilty not because he didn't do it but instead because his mother was such a cow. She doesn't let up even then. Its not until a day trip when her colostomy bag blows open on the bus that things finally change for the better: despite the parallels with his own circumstances, Frank volunteers for the cleanup, and possibly healing the rift between him and his mother. Which is good, the dude wears brown sandals with white socks and probably won't ever get so much as a date. And perhaps thats why at the end of the play, the girls were disappointed.