Bitter is a play new to the Edinburgh fringe this year; it is high on emotion and presents relatable anxieties, whilst thankfully being low on the sort of baggage brought by any kind of convoluted plot or laborious existential themes. The latter two can be surprisingly common amongst new writing so it’s a relief to see something that puts character first and foremost.
The play explores the relationship between two women and how it is shaped by their experiences together; for better and for worse. Their initial meeting, life as flatmates, and everyday common obstacles are explored in a way that drives home the writer’s deeply personal approach to the production. Some may take issue with the play’s slight absence of plot but the focus here is more on the relationship between the two characters of Leila and Rose; the extremes of comedy and drama that can spring in often equal measure from a long-term friendship are given rich exploration. The stage is sprinkled with the kind of clutter typical of any kind of shared living and, the perfectly pitched level of both performances by the central duo (Georgia Carney and Stella Ryley), keeps the piece grounded. The play wholeheartedly earns the tag of being properly ‘authentic’.
Absorbing, personal and anchored by two very real performances: Bitter is a bold example of new writing that keeps an audience in its grasp through the relatability of its themes and likeable characters. It is a micro budget piece of theatre that rises on the strength of consistent writing and intimate staging. The prospect of seeing the same creative team bring us something perhaps larger in scale to come in the near future is definitely an exciting one.