A project first conceived in 2007, Bitter Sweet, is a harrowing drama by Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir that explores a relationship that is slowly falling apart. Set in the living room of their home, the audience is exposed to a couple who in being together are not only hurting themselves but also each other.
The two actors expertly shift between scenes, one minute lovingly sitting together in the past, to screaming at each other in the present. The lighting is simplistic, yet it is cleverly used to project the drama back in time, as the audience are given a glimpse of the happy couple that these two used to be. As the play continues, however, gradually the distinction between the past and present becomes blurry; as the good and the bad times begin to merge, eventually there’s very little that is good left.
Neither character is particularly likeable, with the ‘sadist’ female (Kate Foley-Scott) continuously cheating on her partner, and the male (Ben Blow) being a manipulative, borderline alcoholic. Although there are occasions where the dialogue feels rehearsed, for the most part both actors portray their characters convincingly, with the audience feeling sympathy for these two people trapped within a toxic relationship.
The figures left at the end are a far cry from the couple that used to talk about what they wanted to be when they were older. Despite the heartache that both characters feel, neither is able to let go of the other, even though it is clear that it would be the better choice. That said, it is their pleas of ‘I love you’ and ‘don’t leave me’ that resonate with the audience, and although the final scene is in no way a happy ending, it is indeed bittersweet.
A gripping, and at times incredibly raw performance, Bitter Sweet is a presentation of two people who find themselves at a crossroads with each other. Exhausting for both the audience and the cast, this is a play that will stay with you long after it ends.