Company: Leithelle Productions, Winnipeg Manitoba
Venue: 2 - MTC Up the Alley
"Better Looking Boys" looks mighty fine in this welcome return to the Fringe.
Dennis Trochim's Better Looking Boys
was a hit at the 1997 Winnipeg Fringe. And in this updated version, it's lost none of its power.
The story of four gay men negotiating their complicated relationships explores universal themes of love and interconnectedness, but also questions of what it is to be a gay man in the modern world. "I don't think I know what the proper gay life is anymore" says the damaged Mark (played solidly by Matthew Stefanson). And the answer is, of course, that there is no single answer - one simply lives as well as one can.
Trochim's characters are compellingly multi-faceted, and he has a sharp ear for dialogue. There are also plenty of good laughs here, mostly courtesy of the acerbic Alex, played by Kenneth Jackson - clearly the standout in the cast. ("We are upscale River Heights homosexuals," he sniffs. "We have a reputation to make.")
Directed by Leith Clark - a cast member in the original '97 production - Better Looking Boys
crackles with energy. The production is hampered, though, by uneven performances from Gian Navarro as Alex's boyfriend Steve, and Evan Mackie as his crush Troy. Both have their moments, but don't quite make us care about the characters as much as we need to.
That issue aside, though, Better Looking Boys
looks mighty fine in this welcome return to the Fringe.