Emilia Di Luca
Suicide and schizophrenia take the Martini family by the throat and threaten its happiness until brothers Clem (Brian Smith) and Liv fight back—and win.
Bitter Medicine shares its title with its origin, a graphic novel created by Clem and Oliver Martini. Under Patrick Finn’s direction, Brian Smith as Clem lifts the story from the page and onto the Lower Ossington stage.
With only one actor, a desk, and a chair you might think this performance feels empty. On the contrary, the story’s heart swells and fills the space. Clem dedicates himself to helping his schizophrenic brother, Liv. Bitter Medicine illustrates the challenges of living with such a crippling psychological disease, literally.
While Smith may be the only actor on stage, he is not alone. Liv’s black and white illustrations on a giant screen accompany him. While we never really see Liv, he appears through both illustrations and Smith himself. The illustrations take on personalities and even punctuate moments in the play.
Clem’s decorative imagery fills the stage with the sights, scents, and sounds of the story while the illustrations reveal the characters’ mentalities and moods.
Some transitions and lines need smoothing, but Smith still carries the show with tenderness and authenticity. He works with a beautiful script, one that left my throat dry and my eyes wet.
Catch Bitter Medicine at the Lower Ossington Studio Theatre as a part of the Summerworks Juried Series, until August 17th. For more information and tickets, visit: http://summerworks.ca/2014/portfolio/bitter-medicine/