by Thea Fitz-James
60 min / Sketch Comedy / PG
It’s a cocktail of feminism and booze with Drunk Girl at Ottawa Fringe.
Lining up shot glasses and glugging wine, Thea Fitz-James storms in to the problematic relationship between strong women and strong drink. Biology has given us a short straw for keeping up with the boys whether at conferences or in the quad, while modern society both encourages and condemns a woman’s freedom of choice to imbibe.
Though women have imbibed for centuries, the social acceptability of women drinkers is a relatively new phenomena that Fitz-James explores through her two on-stage personas: “College drunk girl” and “mid-career wine woman”. Both try (and fail) to find the balance between enjoyment and using alcohol as a crutch to block the judgement it engenders.
This is an entertaining and thoughtful piece that any woman, and hopefully man, can relate to. Fitz-James is a remarkable playwright. There is no heavy-handedness in her capable noting of the challenges and blame women feel for situations, even assaults, in boozy circumstances.
Fitz-James moves smoothly from anecdotal acting to reciting recent heart-stopping mainstream quotes blaming women for assaults under the influence. It’s clear things have changed, but there is a palpable anger in her piece that we’ve really not come far enough. At times tripping slightly on dialogue, Fitz-James is an engaging and ballsy entertainer. Engaging a live audience in drinking games, drawing Kafka-esque parallels, and leading the room in a rape chant is risky yet admirably effective.
Fitz-James has been told her production fails to draw a conclusion. It’s unclear if the pre-closing-scene monologue is a new addition reflecting feedback, but it certainly provides a strong finale. The character acting is dropped to share how each reflects her past and potential future; the reality of strong, female, family role-models that drank, and were inspirations for their feminism, but specters for their alcoholism, is powerful stuff. Her pared-down personal address, and reality of a future with no crystal-ball predictions, shines beautifully—drop the Bridget Jones and fade to black.
Drunk Girl by Thea Fitz-James is playing at La Nouvelle Scène Studio A (333 King Edward) until Sunday June 24, 2018.Tickets cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.