Bitter at the End by E3W Productions

Highly anticipated sophomore effort from E3W is a case study of the human condition.

Run: March 15-18, March 29-April 1, 2018
Experienced: March 15, 2018
Address: Los Angeles, CA 90006
Price: $70.00
Tickets: info here
Audience Size: 7
Runtime: 60 minutes
More Information: Instagram

E3W Productions

Bitter at the End is set in a funeral parlor for 7 audience members attending Grace’s wake. It is split into chapters each with a distinct tone and style of engagement.

The first chapter is Grace’s wake and plays out like a one scene play. It’s here where we’re introduced to the family and friends of Grace and the conflicts between them. Having gone through the first wake of my adult life I recognized some of the struggles.

The scene and tone abruptly changes and we are asked to move through the space and the immersive chapters start to kick into gear. There are some nicely choreographed scenes leading us to and from seven different hut structures themed for each family member or friend. Somehow, seemingly randomly, we are placed on one of seven different tracks. I personally met with Grace’s son, husband, lover, and son again before sharing a few final scenes with the rest of the guests.

These individual glimpses into the people close to Grace contain the most exciting pieces of the show. Intimate, insightful, and gut wrenchingly sad these will likely be the scenes that affect people the most emotionally. It’s hard not to feel something when you see a son paralyzed with the simple choice of what tie his mother would want him to wear to her wake.

There is an overarching theme of each of the 7 characters in the piece representing one of the seven deadly sins but I personally didn’t follow it very closely. I think that has more to do with me and how I process what’s happening and the emotions at play vs storylines.

Another more obvious theme is how the living cope and change the narrative of an individual after death. Half truths and complete lies, innocuous as they may be, can be passed down for generations without the recently deceased around to correct it. There are several poignant moments like this throughout that gave me things to think about in my life (and eventual death) and how I will be perceived.

Overall this is an extremely heavy show and it is relentlessly depressing in tone. Everyone is pretty much speechless when the show is over and it takes awhile to process it. It’s not for everyone but I enjoyed this show and wouldn’t mind going back to try and get on another track to see how the different tracks affect the overall show. I can imagine it having a different vibe based on who you meet and interact with.

I feel the first chapter went a little long and would have enjoyed more (or longer) individual scenes instead but understand how the individual scenes were that much more impactful due to the shared first scene providing the background for all the characters.

E3W Productions is trying something new with Bitter at the End and I commend them for that. It would have been safe to try and match the structure and style of In Another Room but there are some new structures and techniques at play here. I see E3W spreading their wings here a bit and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. They are definitely a company to follow.