And we’re off to the second show on my schedule at the 2018 Ottawa Fringe! I hope I’m not letting anyone see that I’m starting to remember how to review these things. Or…or I hope I AM letting them see..? Oh God, it’s all slipping away already! It’s all chaos, and life is but a solipsistic illusion, made mostly of a gentle but moist custard. I should probably get to the show review before I get even more off track.
So on opening night I was settled into a lovely three-peat at La Nouvelle Scene, and my second show was Rob Corbett’s DATING MYSELF, a one-man (well, almost…) show about a gay man in his 50’s and his trials and tribulations in the dating scene. The show opens with Rob in bed with a mysterious, sleeping stranger (the technical other cast member, who has to just sort of lay there quietly in the on-stage bed the whole show…and I could imagine much worse acting gigs, to be sure) when he awakes with a start. We soon discover, through Rob’s neurotic monologuing, that we’ve interrupted a one-night stand between a perennially broke Vanier librarian and the uppercrust Manhattanite he’s scored a seeming one-night-stand with while on an annual trip to New York. What ensues is a visit into our librarian’s psyche as he worries, and wonders, and fantasizes and self-sabotages his way through what may be the best night of his life, or just another bump in the road as he stumbles back to his cheap apartment.
DATING MYSELF is a surprisingly clever take on dating and casual sex and where they can both lead, and one of the more interesting love stories (especially ones portrayed by a single actor) I’ve ever seen at Fringe. Corbett’s style, fluctuating wildly but believably between brash confidence and utter self-loathing, peppered with his frequent bursts into songs and showtunes to break the tension of his own inner monologuing as he talks to his sleeping would-be boyfriend (if that’s even what he really wants), is a perfect goddamn delight to watch. The script is smart and always moving and, okay, occasionally a little obvious and repetitive, but it never stays put for long so any flaws quickly move onto the next strength. And the real strength of the show is Rob Corbett’s fearlessness in dissecting the foibles of his (and other men’s) own inner thoughts. To say nothing of his fearlessness physically, and let me just say, if you’re not comfortable with the naked male body, then by golly, you will be by the end of this show. It’s nothing you won’t get used to…I mean, if it’s not something you already loved looking at, and hey, more power to you! I suppose others could be wimps and cover their eyes, but come on now…take a little (theatrical) cock for Fringe already. Considering the next show I’m set to see tonight is two dancing vulvas, a bit of meat and veg seems perfectly reasonable as appetizer.
Rob Corbett has put his body and his mind, and maybe soul on display for this show, and it’s a really memorable and enjoyable ride. I loved the story, was always invested in how things would turn out, and laughed out loud many a time. C’mon out and see this one for a genuine and real story, told with humour and heart, and maybe just a little less clothing than you’re comfortable with. But that’s okay. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin R (and Baby G)
PS check out Rob’s remaining showtimes and ticket info HERE!