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Ballsy But Limp: Reviewing ‘Stop Trying To Look At My D**k’ at the Canal Cafe Theatre

Stop Trying To Look At My D**k is a deeply personal venture which strips the psyche of twenty-four year old Jacob Grunberger bare. Following his tumultuous life, the play depicts the experience of losing a parent at a young age before unfolding into a medley of mediums, ranging from rap music to interpretive dancing. 


I arrived at the Canal Cafe Theatre freshly warm from my walk in the sun. Eyeing the small walkway towards the entrance, I picked up a pamphlet to scan briefly before pursuing the stairs. The room was lined with red circular tables and I was encouraged by staff to claim a seat at the front. Convinced I would be experiencing a provocative journey, I turned my gaze to the audience funneling through, carrying their cocktails and smiles. 



The opening lines curled the corners of my mouth yet my limbs were stuck to my sides. Grunberger’s introduction addressed the title of the production and emanated chuckles, however most of it consisted of clicking buttons for a slideshow commenting on memories from his childhood. Detailing the reasons for his grief, I longed for the dialogue to deepen. Instead, Grunberger began to perform a piece of interpretive dancing. 


Inside I squirmed and became submerged in awkward intimacy. I was apprehensive that I misunderstood his artistic intent. Alternatively, I took strides in attempting to dissect the choreography choices. Grunberger exposes himself in a raw and commendable sequence with a confidence one could only imagine to embody. Yet, this vulnerability struck me as misplaced. During one sequence of many he rolled across the stage positioning his arms as guns. This felt completely out of context for me; unfortunately, not a shred of me was convinced by it. Feeling slightly tricked, I tried to look at anything other than him. 


Although the comedy was more of a high point than other elements, it felt derivative and lacked substance. Cheap gags elicited brief laughter but nothing cut to the core. Much of the dialogue outlined issues of men’s mental health but felt pretty standard and again, did not garner enough impact. I couldn't help but think that Stop Looking At My D**k states the obvious about typical matters one deals with in life. 


Grunberger was more than a presence. He had plentiful showmanship and undeniable self-assurance. Conversely, the performance was subdued by its writing and direction. The production is more akin to stand-up comedy than a play due to its autobiographical aspect. I believe the title promised something grittier than what I was handed. 


Overall, Stop Looking At My D**k did not stay with me for much longer than my viewing of it. With only an hour of run time, there was no possibility that every aspect of the production could be fleshed out and cohesive unless it had focused on one artistic endeavour rather than a series of them. In spite of this, I still long for Grunberger, who had been a bold presence in the room, to delve deeper into his craft and discover what to tackle next. 



 

Edited by Georgia Gibson, Theatre Editor.

Thumbnail photo from @stoptryingtolook Instagram page.



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