Skip to content

Fringe Fest review: The Anal Stage

Hard to connect with individuals lacking balance
The Anal Stage - Poster.5
The Anal Stage is at the Telus Phone Museum as part of the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.

The Anal Stage

Gusul-Reynolds Productions

Venue 9

Telus Phone Museum

10437 83 Ave., Edmonton

2 ½ Stars

There are only three characters in The Anal Stage and they spend the entire hour angling for something they don’t have.

Central to the storyline is Man, a financier that handles volatile markets overseas. Like Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street, the name of the game is moving money from a client’s pocket into his – mostly legally.

Completely devoid of a moral compass, Man denigrates immigrants, teenagers and trailer trash that work at dead-end, minimum wage jobs.

At one point he states, “Maybe me being rude to them will inspire them to get off their ass.”

On a blind date he meets and seduces Woman. She’s an intelligent, high-priced lawyer representing a major CEO of a cannabis operation embroiled in an investigation.

Although a pro at litigation, she lacks the brains to use protection during a one-night stand with Man and ends up pregnant.

Initially, she has no intention of seeing him a second time after a tepid first date. However, once the pregnancy is confirmed, a second meeting grows into a regular occurrence.

Throughout the romance of convenience, Man’s ghost-mother appears to him regularly while he sits on the toilet. Mother has been dead three weeks. Unless she redeems her past negligence by encouraging him to be a better man, she is doomed to hell.

Morinville actor Geordie Cheeseman’s Man does a superb job of creating a character that is a nauseating jerk in capital letters. Even when he talks about being bullied by an older brother, it’s difficult to sympathize.

Wendy Shobe’s Woman comes across as a woman who sees her biological clock ticking. Despite numerous professional achievements, she chooses to develop a relationship with a duplicitous man and the question is why.

Prudence Olenik's character Mother evolves from being a caring parent to one who is merely concerned with her own future.

None of the characters are likeable. Each is selfish and it’s difficult for a theatregoer to connect with individuals lacking balance.

There are plenty of laughs throughout and the toilet humour is fairly benign. However, playwright Matthew “Gus” Gusul tacks on a twist ending that feels completely manipulated. And no one likes to feel as if they’ve been taken for a ride.