At a glance, one might expect Bitch: The Play to be a progressively feminist experience. That did not turn out to be the case at all. Without being overly protective or punitive of either gender, the show is a collection of monologues that examine the myriad situations, definitions and circumstances that would bring forth the use of this notoriously negative, five-letter word.
DJ Panamami duly christens the evening with a decidedly hip-hop favor, choosing selections that illustrate the pervasive use of bitch in the themes and lyrics of music - from Pop and Rock to Rap and R&B.
Next, a young ensemble ( Leslie R. Bell, Mylika Davis, Treisa Gary, Kamila Korz, Quentin Miles, Ebenezer Quaye, Lyn Michele Ross and Jessica Young ) takes its audience on a wild ride of pain, laughter and introspection through a colorful parade of character and emotions with which all of us can identify.
While cast as a unit is solid, for me there were a handful of standout performances. “Life’s a Bitch” is a piece where Ebenezer Quaye portrays a combative, agitated character who asserts the ultimate control over his own life. Mylika Davis ’ “Sexy Bitch” takes the audience on a whimsical rollercoaster that is a young love affair, when love and lust are new and all that can be seen ahead are wine and roses - until our featured profanity blasts the bloom off the rose.
Quentin Miles opens the second act strong with a fearless “Fierce Bitch” monologue, detailing how the subtleties of delivery a can wield the word as endearment or insult. The entire ensemble unites to perform “Bitch The Journey”, a segment that traces the life of the word from the moment it entered the lexicon, through its truculent teen years traversing countries and cultures, to the present day which could be considered its prime.
This production takes on a minimalist approach, dressing both stage and performers in basic black with occasional splash of red. The production cycles through scenes smoothing, in workshop fashion, each rendering snapshots into the vivid life of this one word. The show also employs a multimedia element in the way of audio snippets and sound bites from popular culture – reiterating the dozens of ways that the word bitch, and its meaning, has morphed over time and culture.
Writer/ Director Team Darla Martindale and Kim William s have developed a showcase that is very successful in conveying how the word looks from the outside, and how it feels on the inside. The duo employs a rainbow of voices and experiences that allow the audience a deeper appreciation of how the word “Bitch” demeans or empowers oneself and others. The text of this production is both thoughtful and humorous. Martindale and Williams do more than celebrate the word in all its shades of gray. More than anything, Bitch The Play is actually a love letter to language.
I can’t remember the first time I heard the word bitch. After seeing Bitch the Play , I hear it everywhere. My consciousness is piqued and I have a new awareness of its prevalence, particularly in the world of entertainment and modern narrative storytelling. It makes me think: perhaps the best thing an audience member can draw from this production is the reminder that some words always have, and always will, have the ability to harm.
Bitch: The Play is running for one weekend only at:
The Chaplin Theatre
@ El Centro Theatre Complex
804 N. El Centro Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038
For reservations or show info call: 323-230-7261
Friday, September 17 th @ 8pm
Saturday, September 18 th @ 8pm
Sunday, September 19 th @ 2pm & 7pm