Fuckboys. For millennials, we’ve all met them, some of us are them – whether unconsciously or not – and as such, a show that deals specifically with them should be relatable. In the case of F*ckboys: The Musical, attempts to make the show appeal to audiences’ experiences of these men sadly had the opposite effect.

Relying on dated pop-culture references, misattributing quotes to celebrities, and pairing two of the female protagonists off with men while also trying to promote the message that all women need in life is friends and a weekly karaoke session felt incongruous.

As the cast is American, I think a large part of the gap that prevented me from enjoying the work as much as I would have liked to was the obvious American-style humour throughout. While I did appreciate that they kept the geographical references American to suit the style and background of the performers, I felt the show overall was more obvious than humorous, though not without heart.

The highlights of this production were the performances of writer-director and cast member Savannah Pedersen as a woman in a post break-up haze of hurt and mistrust but who rises to the occasion when a friend is in need, and Glenn Lorandeau as the man who helps her overcome her fears through the unorthodox employment of a therapeutic blow-up doll. In fact, both these performers were honest and open despite Lorandeau’s character’s self-righteous need to help people who he believes need fixing.

Despite being a musical, the acting and singing were the only loud things as the music faded into the background, and for a cast who at times struggled with the vocals, the choice to stage a musical was questionable. Once again, Pedersen stole the audience’s attention whenever she sang, a testament to her ability and as someone who has poured a great deal of herself into this show. While the whole of the stage was used it wasn’t always to great effect with odd blocking for exits and entrances around stage right, and the use of black boxes harkening back to drama classes. This extended to the props as well, as the pipe used on stage produced no smoke, and the colour of beverages poured didn’t match what was ordered – which for a show set in a bar is quite an oversight.

As much as I was looking forward to the show bases on the title alone, I left feeling a little defeated as the promise to stop the epidemic of fuckboys, referred to in promotional material as “literal garbage” wasn’t delivered and it felt more like a “not all men” advertisement. Similarly, the overuse of popular maxims such as “A wise woman once said fuck this shit’ and she lived happily ever after” detracted from what was, in moments of original scripting, a show with promise. In fact, I’d love to see the work developed and polished more so Pedersen’s own voice can be allowed to flourish.

I do hope the cast and crew have a great time here for Fringe and thank them for coming to share their work with Melbourne audiences.

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