IN THE WINGS

A litany of the­atri­cal sins

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - Colm Mag­ner In the Wings Colm Mag­ner, who is a mem­ber of the Cana­dian The­atre Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion, has worked as a play­wright, ac­tor, di­rec­tor and teacher for more than 30 years. His col­umn, In the Wings, will ap­pear reg­u­larly dur­ing the sum­mer. To reach

The Guardian’s the­atre critic Colm Mag­ner’s lat­est re­view from the Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val.

If you’re alone and lonely, bro­ken-hearted and sad, stay home. You will take no so­lace from this bit of skull­dug­gery.

“Bit­ter­girl - the Mu­si­cal,” play­ing at The Mack, writ­ten by Annabel Fitzsim­mons, Ali­son Lawrence and Mary Fran­cis Moore, and di­rected by Adam Bra­zier, in­dulges in two dread­fully long hours of mock­ery of the worst sort — of hu­man heart­break.

And that, as Ste­vie Ray

Vaughn says, is “a cold shot, baby.”

Yes, you could see a male char­ac­ter who’s a generic “hunk” every­man (Jay Davis as D) in tight black jeans, but you could look at one of those on­line; and, be­sides, D’s just not very nice. Thrice.

But, you ask, will I at least be happy when Ni­cola Dawn Brook (C), Sarite Har­ris (B) and Marisa McIn­tyre (A) re­cover from their re­la­tion­ships with “that aw­ful man?” No. There is nary a shred of cathar­sis. And the fact these char­ac­ters are sim­ply named A, B, C and D is, in fact, quite telling.

So, why should I sit there for two hours, Mr.? Good ques­tion. My part­ner-in-crime had to con­vince me to stay af­ter in­ter­mis­sion, so I didn’t miss part of the “ex­pe­ri­ence.”

But there is no ex­pe­ri­ence to be had here. Ex­pe­ri­ence de­notes an en­counter, and there is no en­counter here.

This play, and the fact The Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val chose to mount it, is an em­bar­rass­ment. On top of a litany of the­atri­cal sins (the band is the most lethar­gic I’ve ever wit­nessed, the act­ing is of the “ham” style and the writ­ing is pedes­trian), I was ap­palled to think I was sit­ting in a the­atre that was part of the “ven­er­a­ble” Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre of the Arts. To the CEO, the artis­tic di­rec­tor and, most es­pe­cially, the board of direc­tors, I would like to re­mind them of the orig­i­nal in­ten­tion be­hind the found­ing of Canada’s Na­tional Me­mo­rial to the Fa­thers of Con­fed­er­a­tion. At the open­ing of the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre of the Arts in 1964, Prime Min­is­ter Lester B. Pear­son ded­i­cated the build­ing to “the fos­ter­ing of those things that en­rich the mind and de­light the heart, those in­tan­gi­ble but pre­cious things that give mean­ing to a so­ci­ety and help cre­ate from it a civ­i­liza­tion and a cul­ture.” Please note, “en­rich the mind.”

The Cen­tre has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­ter­tain, but, more im­por­tantly, a re­spon­si­bil­ity to ed­u­cate, to nour­ish, and to take its au­di­ences for­ward into richer the­atri­cal lands, es­pe­cially in its sec­ondary the­atre spa­ces.

At the mo­ment, as ev­i­denced by this pro­duc­tion, it is pan­der­ing to the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor. Please don’t. It gets re­ally te­dious writ­ing these scathing re­views.

Was this play ever rel­e­vant? How can seven women be on stage for two long hours and cre­ate nary a tinge of real ex­cite­ment, sex­ual en­ergy, or em­pa­thy?

Per­haps it’s be­cause the play de­picts women as silly vac­u­ous be­ings who do noth­ing but act ridicu­lous as they be­moan the fact that some loser every­man dumped them. (If you want a woman’s per­spec­tive, read Lisa Jeans’ re­view in altthe­atre.ca.)

This isn’t real heart­break. And it’s there­fore not evenly re­motely funny or mov­ing. The play is a slap in the face to ev­ery man or woman who is at this mo­ment ly­ing in their bed weep­ing be­cause love has gone awry.

There­fore, and fi­nally (so there is no con­fu­sion, no latenight tear­ful drunken knocks at the back door), and for all those lonely heart­bro­ken peo­ple, I am go­ing to dump this play and never think about her again.

And I’m not go­ing to feel a shred of re­morse.

LOUISE VESSEY PHOTO

From left, Marisa McIn­tyre, Sarite Har­ris, Jay Davis and Ni­cola Dawn Brook with the Bit­ter­girl band, per­form in a scene from The 2017 Char­lot­te­town Fes­ti­val pro­duc­tion of “Bit­ter­girl – the Mu­si­cal,” play­ing un­til Aug. 26 at Con­fed­er­a­tion’s cabaret the­atre, The Mack.

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