Fringe review: The Anal Stage

The Anal Stage
Directed by Alix Reynolds; Gusul-Reynolds Productions; Telus Phone Museum; until Sat., Aug. 24.
Our Score
The Anal Stage

By Miya Abe

Go to the bathroom before seeing The Anal Stage, otherwise, you might be in for a pretty squirmy hour of toilet humour. In this quirky show, a musician-turned-businessman—who treats women like trash, snorts coke, and disregards everyone around him—is visited by his recently deceased mother, who tries to teach him to be a better person. The catch is, she can only speak with him while he’s on the can.

This play is definitely a bit creepy; the son spends much of this play in his underwear or less, sitting on the toilet while his mother berates him for being a disgusting pig. The mother’s excessive nagging tells us too much about the son and perhaps his bad behaviour could be shown more to us instead. He does start to turn around though, once he meets a lawyer who is a one-night stand at first, but becomes pregnant and struggles to tell him, afraid it will ruin their relationship. The mother roots for them to continue dating but unlike many similar narratives, she does this for purely selfish reasons.

The characters are largely unsympathetic and unlikeable, almost to the point where it’s hard to care much about them, but there is enough here to hope things work out in the end anyway. While this seems like a strike against the show, it’s still fun to see how this all plays out and the performances are fearless, with the actors doing a lot of uncomfortable things on-stage. This seems like it will be a redemption tale, but if the toilet, fart noises, and songs about wiping your bum are any indication, there is less to The Anal Stage than meets the eye. While you might not be bowled over, you may still crack up anyways.

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