Bittergirl is the cleverly intertwined tale of three women playing off one male actor, who represents all their exes and excesses.
By Kevin Somers
Published February 25, 2011
this article has been updated
Life is an interminable series of experiences that determine its quality. I went to see Bittergirl at Theatre Aquarius recently and am richer for it.
We're a busy bunch, but there was a blank in the schedule and a Sunday matinee of Bittergirl in the Studio Theatre, so I was off like an oath when hammer hits thumb.
The Studio Theatre is an intimate setting: 32 tables, 128 seats, in a cabaret venue. Drinking, which always makes everything better, is permitted; arguably, it's encouraged.
The audience were mostly women and - fortunately - I shared a table with three who were gracious and friendly. We were having a nice chat when the place went dark, conversation stopped, lights came on, and the entertainers took over.
Bittergirl is the cleverly intertwined tale of three women playing off one male actor, who represents all their exes and excesses. The three fretful women analyze their respective break-ups to (comedic) death.
The young, emerging cast, should be proud of their performances; they were great. Working with a crackling, lively script, the foursome threw buckets of energy at a receptive audience. It's good to see local talent thrive.
The only man, Jeremy Lapalme, is from Pickering and trained at Sheridan College's Musical Theatre Performance Program.
Romina Cortina, who also went to Sheridan, is from Stoney Creek. She says, "I was born in Hamilton, educated in Hamilton, and all my formative arts training was done in the city."
Shari Vandermole is from Grimsby. "I have been involved in Theatre in and around the Hamilton area for 6 years. I began my own production company, Quarter to Nine Productions, in 2009 in conjunction with my first entry in the Hamilton Fringe Festival. We hope to be involved with the 2011 Fringe Festival with a concert-style show to celebrate the release of my first CD."
Mary-Elizabeth Willcot is from Burlington and studied at Fanshawe Theatre Arts in London. "Not to long ago (9years to be exact) I was an usher at Aquarius. I would come with Burlington Student Theatre to every closing night to hand out pamphlets, smile, and seat people.
"Eventually I worked my way up a grade 11 co-op student. I would set up and take down the Studio tables and chairs, iron tablecloths, vacuum, and set up the 10 foot tall Christmas tree in the lobby! Eventually I was hired on for the summer as an assistant to our house manager at the time.
"I was so thrilled to be part of a large team of professionals; however ironing and photocopying were still part of the job description. That is what I have always love about the theatre. No matter how much you succeeded on that stage, you know there is a large team of people making it all work.
"And without them there would be no show."
The play is all about people breaking up and hurting each other. Like chewing tinfoil, Bittergirl hits a few nerves.
Director Luke Brown said of the script, "For me, the truth stands out. When I first read it, I had to put it down about three pages into it because I kept having flashbacks to my last break-up. Too soon, too close to home.
"We've all said or had those things said to us. Sure, they're lines but we use them because telling them the actual reason you're breaking up with them is to hurtful. In that situation, no one actually wants the truth. No one wants to hear 'You've gotten fat. I'd rather be with someone else. Every moment I spend with you I die a little.'"
The performance moves quickly. It's 70 minutes with a few brief pauses and there's no intermission. When it ended., one table-mate asked what I thought. I wasn't sure. The entire script was female break-up talk.
I told them, in all sincerity, I was a little uncomfortable because I never talk about relationships with anyone, ever. I don't or won't discuss my marriage with my wife, so family, friends, family-friends, or a Dr. Phil wannabe is out of the question. I'd rather talk about hockey fights or cut off my thumb with a pairing knife and excuse myself to visit the hospital.
Another of the table friends said of the play, "That's what women are like, you know. We over-analyze everything," and the others nodded in agreement. She continued, "The veil has been lifted. You've been let in on the secret."
That fascinated me and has been bouncing around my brain since. They really are from Venus.
Bittergirl was a lot of fun and I'm grateful for the experience.
Update: fixed spelling
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