2 min

Minimalist attire

And a charismatic member of the cast

LEAST DISAPPOINTING. Matthew Rush has a certain charm on stage. Credit: Xtra files

Want to see a porn star in the (somewhat gigantic) flesh? Now is your chance. Falcon Studios’ current idol Matthew Rush is starring in the Toronto production of 10 Naked Men, which is being mounted on the stage of the Ber-keley Street Theatre this month.

The body builder extraordinaire can be seen in a variety of revealing outfits, with tank tops and shorts being the general costume preference. Also of course to avoid disappointing expectant audience members, Rush appears a few times wearing nothing at all except his considerable charisma.

For the audience members not captivated by his excessively formidable bodily charms, Rush actually turns out to be one of the least disappointing performers onstage. He seems acutely aware of his own limitations as an actor and succeeds in not getting in the way of his professional colleagues. As a result, he manages to make his character seem sweet and almost charming.

Ten Naked Men is the latest in a series of assembly-line plays constructed with a certain amount of professional skill by playwright Ronnie Larsen and his production team, this time featuring a plot inspired by such cinematic triumphs as Valley Of The Dolls.

Larsen’s team does not need the services of a local director, since Toronto’s version is presumably a faithful copy of many identical productions of this play seen in various US cities over the last couple of years. This means that the set, costumes, lighting and stage movement have a blandly uniform look to them: “If this is July it must be Toronto.”

The play’s lines are severely minimalist. Not minimalist in the sense of a Beckett or a Pinter, where worlds of meaning can be read into everything that is not being said. In the world of Larsen’s plays the minimalism seems to be a deliberate stratagem to prevent the audience from noticing when severely underrehearsed actors onstage have forgotten or misread their lines. When dialogue is shortened to the point of such terseness, it is difficult to recognize those times when we miss out on what little there was to begin with.

The play’s plot lines (which revolve around the concept of wannabe actors being hired for reasons other than their dramatic competence) seem to be reflected in some of the performances offered during the course of the evening.

One or two of the actors on- stage appear to have the same attitude as this reviewer does toward the lines of dialogue they have been offered to work with, and have consequently decided to try to lengthen their parts with occasionally successful shtick. Others seem to have resigned themselves to seeing out the run, while perhaps secretly hoping that none of their friends buytickets for the show.

In fairness an important final question has to be answered. Yes, and however fleetingly, the audience does get to see 10 naked men during the course of the evening.

* Ten Naked Men continues at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley St) until Sun, Jul 18; call (416) 368-3110.