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Big laughs on stage at The Mack in Charlottetown this summer

Lennie MacPherson comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 31, 2015

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, hit-filled 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. No question, this will be one of the most popular shows of the summer.

Got to go:

What: Bittergirl - The Musical.

Where: The Mack in Charlottetown.

When: Until Sept. 12.

Lennie MacPherson, a Charlottetown-based writer, actor and musician, writes theatre reviews for The Guardian during the summer months. He welcomes feedback at mockmywoods@gmail.com.