EDGES by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul directed by Evan Tsitsias (Acting Up Stage). At Revival (783 College). To November 24, Sundays 7 pm, Mondays 8 pm. 416-927-7880. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The use of the word "edge" in this musical's title seems to imply that this show is risky, barrier-breaking or in some way edgy. It's not.
The show is a depressingly-vanilla 80 minute song cycle with no set and no plot beyond what the four young characters reveal about themselves in song. From the paper-thin "plot" it can be deduced that this show is about four unnamed young people living in New York City who are dealing with questions of personal identity and weighing their personal aspirations against social or familial expectations.
Many successful musicals have examined this very question through the lens of an engaging plot, but Edges lacks such a framework, which unfortunately precludes any real drama from unfolding.
While taking over a live music venue for the show was a good idea, the performers interact with each other in the most minimal way, and blocking is mainly a simplistic, shoulders-front affair. The music - of the super-safe piano-pop variety - is largely uninspiring, and definitely not at the "edge" of anything.
Besides the fact the characters remain anonymous, it's difficult to connect with any of them in a meaningful way. The duet Pretty Sweet Day, sung by the male cast members (Jordan Bell and Eric Craig), is supposed to be a lighthearted number about two best-buds palling around. Instead, the lyrics, coupled with the overly-earnest performances, make the characters come off like lecherous fratboy douchebags, the vacuous sort you see tussling outside the Brunny at 3 am.
The best performer in Edges is Sara Farb, who plays a plaid-scarf-wearing rocker who can't commit to any of the near-perfect men she's shacked up with. At one point, she laments over whether or not to dump her chiseled, millionaire boyfriend - cry me a river, I just don't care. That said, Farb is the best belter on stage, absolutely owning the soulful chorus to I've Gotta Run, even if her character's "problems" are totally ridiculous.
If Edges takes any kind of risk, it's the risk of being too of-the-moment. While a couple of songs score big laughs, the jokes are always easy sells on either sex or pop culture. The four-hander Be My Friend - a ditty about the foibles of Facebook (which includes the lyric: "Please be my friend on the Facebook") - is so lame it made me gag. In fact, product placement is so persistent (Stella Artois, JCrew, Pizza Hut, Facebook, Sex In The City all get shout-outs) the show feels like two hours of thinly-veiled marketing.
If you wanted to see an actually edgy show that deals with modern issues in an intelligent way, you should have caught Avenue Q. Seriously, I could relate to puppets way better than these bougie snowflakes.