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Big laughs on stage at The Mack in Char­lot­te­town this sum­mer

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - Len­nie MacPher­son Len­nie MacPher­son, a Char­lot­te­town­based writer, ac­tor and mu­si­cian, writes theatre re­views for The Guardian dur­ing the sum­mer months. He wel­comes feed­back at mock­my­

Fel­las, no need to wait in the car, all hang­dog, while the women en­joy this one. Fun for all awaits at the foot of Up­per Great Ge­orge.

“Bit­ter­girl - The Mu­si­cal” is the prod­uct of com­mis­er­at­ing writ­ers Ali­son Lawrence, Annabel Fitzsim­mons and Mary Fran­cis Moore, who’ve man­aged to mine laugh­ter from their bro­ken hearts. Kelly Robin­son, brought in later as di­rec­tor, has helped sculpt it into a sparkling, hit­filled cel­e­bra­tion of mis­for­tune. In Char­lot­te­town, we’re wit­ness­ing its first it­er­a­tion as a mu­si­cal. With many song snip­pets culled from that glo­ri­ous ear­lier era of pop, one would ex­pect a more re­vue-type feel, but the show re­mains clev­erly co­he­sive.

We fol­low the par­al­lel sto­ries of three woe­be­gone women, all fresh off the re­la­tion­ship vine, stum­bling through their early days of in­de­pen­dence. Loosely mod­elled off the ex­pe­ri­ences of the writ­ers, and in­formed by a great many other break-ups, it’s well-trod ter­ri­tory to be sure. But there’s a cer­tain crackle to it, too. And it’s bril­liantly ex­e­cuted here by a ster­ling cast.

Out of the goofy shenani­gans, Re­becca Auer­bach, St­effi DiDomeni­can­to­nio and Marisa McIntyre cre­ate three richly comic and dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties. Their triple threat strengths im­press, but their self-deprecating hu­mour is dy­na­mite.

By times, the script can be quite cut­ting in its re­lata­bil­ity. On this night, when I might haz­ard 80 per cent of the packed au­di­ence was fe­male, the col­lec­tive groan of dis­ap­proval on cer­tain lines was some­thing to be­hold. Not to play into gen­der-based brush strokes, but we’ll term this pow­er­ful force “multi-tsk­ing”.

Feel­ing the brunt of that con­dem­na­tion is “ex” Jay Davis, per­fectly cast and clothed in a cheesy sheen. His stare would be smol­der­ing if it wasn’t so aim­less. His ex­cuses, cloaked in ba­nal philo­soph­i­cal jar­gon, are al­ways served on a pa­tron­iz­ing plat­ter.

Again, such funny per­for­mances, in tan­dem and in their own un­guarded spot­lights, with throw-away mut­ter­ings or roar­ing asides. The in­ter­twined word play and quick gear shifts be­tween song bites seem so ef­fort­less, you could al­most take it for granted. But don’t.

It’s a flashy, high-energy show that tailors well to The Mack’s cabaret space. And though the room has al­ways been a bit finicky sound-wise, the tech team seems to have mostly triaged that com­pli­ca­tion. And Diane Lines, as mu­si­cal di­rec­tor, keeps things tight and tidy.

There is noth­ing overly sen­ti­men­tal here. Op­ti­mism awaits, yes, but we’re spared too much self-con­grat­u­la­tory Oprah-ness. It’s just a hi­lar­i­ous take on get­ting dumped. I know, you’re think­ing that’s a lit­tle in­del­i­cate of a word to use. But I wholly en­cour­age ev­ery­one to ac­cept the use of a pre­vowel in­def­i­nite ar­ti­cle in front of an h word that doesn’t stress the first syl­la­ble. Where were we? Ah, yes. No ques­tion, this will be one of the most pop­u­lar shows of the sum­mer.

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