Orlando Fringe 2022 review: 'Stag Night'

'The Bachelor' meets 'Squid Game' in this outré original satire.

The Bachelor meets Squid Game in Stag Night, an outré original satire from writer-performer Billie Jane Aubertin (creator of last year’s award-winning Judas) where audiences can tune in live to this season’s dramatic season premiere — and finale — of America’s second-favorite romantic reality show. Kyle (Bjorn Backman) is the eligible groom-to-be experiencing the hardest 24 hours of his life, as he attempts to find his true love among a score of women (Melina Kay, Asheligh Ann Gardner, Jane Soliman, Billie Jane Aubertin).

The quintuple embark on the usual bizarre micro-dates, like eating PB&J while watching war footage, or a cutthroat game of Red Light, Green Light, in scenes that covers all the reality TV clichés: confessional monologues, vicious catfights and shameless make-out sessions galore. The twist is that on this show, rejects aren’t merely denied a rose; they get their throats slit by the smarmy star, without objection from the obsequious eggheaded host, Harrison (Joe Llorens). 

Aubertin’s darkly comedic script has a wicked concept and sharp dialogue. While the star isn’t quite as charismatic as he (or the network) seem to think, his leading ladies all sparkle, especially Gardner’s girl-next-door and Aubertin’s grief counselor, whose fatal confession was deeply felt. Unfortunately, some other attempts at evoking genuine emotion came across as insincere, and the ending isn’t incisive as the premise promises. Kate Murray’s direction is unevenly paced, leading to an unbalanced mix of big laughs and long lulls that transitional commercial breaks couldn’t completely cover over. 

The show is ultimately a mixed bag that’s best when sticking with anti-patriarchal parody. If you’re intrigued by Stag Night but on the fence about attending, I say listen to Aubertin and “give love a chance.”

Tickets and show info: Stag Night

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