A few people have noticed male angst is a heady theme at this year’s fringe, and perhaps nowhere else is "mangst" given a more traditional metaphor than The Balding, Montrealer Jeff Gandell’s one-man account of his "late blooming, early withering" 20s.
At 19, Gandell’s shedding hair fast. He’s also creatively stalling, accidentally destroying his parent’s property and nervously rebuffing women who want into his pants — growing misfortunes he blames on an expanding scalp. Has he failed at life?
Better written than it’s acted, The Balding has enough personal flair and striking introspection to keep coiffed and cue ball alike engaged. But — and maybe it’s nerves — Gandell is stuck on the same presentational style, almost the exact same cadence throughout the show. Rather than talk with the audience, he’s talking at them. It holds the material back.
But there’s still plenty of fringe left to relax, shave off a few expendable bits (those awkward pseudo-songs to start) and then shine.
— Matt TenBruggencate