IN THE WINGS
A litany of theatrical sins
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.
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.