Reviews - Fringe 2017

The Bathtub Girls

By Jessica Rose
Published July 19, 2016

In 2003, two sisters - aged 15 and 16 at the time - committed the first known case of sibling matricide in Canada. They made it look accidental, feeding their mother lethal levels of vodka and Tylenol 3s before drowning her in the bathtub.

"It was a mercy killing."

This is the premise of The Bathtub Girls, the most innovative and emotional play I've seen this year, or any other year, at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. Created, directed, and performed by Natalia Bushnik and Robin Luckwaldt Ross, both recent University of Windsor BFA Acting graduates, The Bathtub Girls is the play to see at this year's Fringe.

When audiences arrive at the Theatre Aquarius Studio, Bushnick and Luckwaldt Ross are already seated on the stage, with arms laced, legs crossed, and eyes locked, muttering to one another. The pair rise in unison, sharing the stage with only one prop, a plain white sheet.

"Everyone in our families watched her slowly killing herself," one sister says of their mother, an alcoholic who is numbing the difficulties of being a single parent and recent immigrant. "She wasn't even my mother anymore," one says. Audiences can't help but sympathize with the sisters, who tell us they went hungry and ignored.

"There was no hope for her," they say time and again. This was a "really efficient way to heal her."

The dialogue in The Bathtub Girls is minimal, sparse, and eerily repetitive. Instead, the play relies heavily on facial expressions and purposeful and expressive movement of the body bordering on interpretive dance. Music by Jaroslaw Bester and the Bester Quartet sets the dark and heavy mood.

In just one hour, audiences get inside the minds of the media-dubbed "Bathtub Girls," whose true identities are forever protected by a court order. Smart and inventive, The Bathtub Girls grips audiences from the moment it starts, never disappointing for even a second.

Since earning a degree in journalism from Carleton University, Jessica Rose has written for publications in Hamilton and across Canada. Her book reviews have appeared in many magazines, including Quill and Quire, Room, Ricepaper, This, the Humber Literary Review, and on rabble.ca. Jessica sits on the board of gritLIT: Hamilton's Readers and Writers Festival. She writes "Shelf Life," Hamilton Magazine's books column and she's also a senior editor for the upcoming Hamilton Review of Books. You can find her blogging on her website, Not My Typewriter, and the Hamilton Arts Council.

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