Playwright and director Scarlett Larry certainly knows a thing or two about living life behind the scenes, but whether she truly knows anything about “dating assholes” remains a question.
You’d think The Stage Managers Guide to Dating Assholes would be a show that teaches the audience a little something about dating, from the perspective of a stage manager, right?
Rather, it is more of a parody of life behind the scenes of a show, and it is in these instances where the show is hilarious. But this success is clouded by a subplot about how virtually every stage manager is in love with their director – in this case, the Director (played by Alex Allan) is a lying, cheating, pompous narcissist, but the ladies all can’t help but swoon over him in the most nauseating manner, even though he proceeds to play all three of them like a fiddle.
There are three ever-so-stereotypical stage managers in this show: The Drill Sergeant (Katie Coseni), the Cheerleader (Jemma Robinson) and the Stage Manager Who Can’t Get Her Shit Together (Shannon Farrell). These stage managers are managed by the Mother Stage Manager (played by Catherine Fergusson), clad in maid attire, wand in hand at all times.
Each of the actors bring their own brand of comedy to the stage, and in some moments it works. I do agree that young women continue to get taken advantage of in many industries, including the theatre industry, however, the subplot seems both exaggerated and impractical, when compared to my experiences anyway. Directors are no doubt wildly intimidating most of this time, but this is just a little bit excessive it seems.
The real sparkle in this production comes from its ability to poke fun at the realities of working on a show from the inside – all the jobs that require so much work, yet go mostly unnoticed by the public.
In one particular entertaining dance number from the literally-chained-to-a-desk “Techie” (Jenna MacNeil) we see this show’s true potential in highlighting both the seriousness and the hilarity of all the hard work, emotional stress and mental breakdowns that come hand-in-hand with working tech on a show.
With some finessing and a little less focus on dating, this show has a lot of hidden gems that should really come to the forefront of this production.
The Stage Manager’s Guide to Dating Assholes runs at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace until July 10. For more information, visit www.fringetoronto.com.