Razor-sharp and scabrously funny, Chris Edwards’ This Bitter Earth is made up of six scenes, the first a monologue, the second a dialogue, the third a three-hander … you get the picture.
Its people are young, urban, middle-class apparently, queer, white, and a little bit fucked-up.
Like the anxious guy played by Matthew Predny, for example, a proverbial innocent country boy who gets a taste of city life (and more besides) when he follows an older man back to his apartment.
Like Joel (Michael Cameron), who has his conjugal ambitions cruelly dashed by long-time lover Dean (Mitchell Bourke). Like the three women (Elle Mickel, Sasha Simon and Ariadne Sgouros) working out their relationship issues in a gym, the four clubbers clubbing, the five travellers daring each other to reveal uncomfortable truths in a “sangria safe space”.
Edwards’ vignettes feel fresh and of this moment. His people don’t explain or excuse themselves. There are no saints or sinners. The tone shifts from serious to superficial, heartfelt to ironic in a blink.
Director Riley Spadaro packs everything into a short (65-minute), drum-tight production with each scene showcased on designer Grace Deacon’s sparely elegant stage-up-a-stage and evocatively lit by Phoebe Pilcher.
The acting is excellent across the board with Predny setting a high bar from the outset. From there, this excellent production doesn’t waver for a second. Bourke and Sgouros make outstanding contributions.
Very much recommended.