S: (quietly) What do you want to hear? What would change if I told you it hurts every time I look at you, look you in the eye and see how I’m hurting you? That you’ve never forgiven me and I’ve never forgiven myself either. And I hate myself for this. I hate this. I can tell you despise me but I do nothing, afraid that if I do, you’ll leave me. I know I’m being selfish, keeping you here, freezing the air between us. (waits) I could tell you I’m unhappy, depressed, and you can fix me. Just send me out for some happy pills. And when I get back we’ll live happily ever after, forever and ever and ever. What truth would you like to hear?
© Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir
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Two people are stuck. He used to trust her; she may have fancied him once. There was something that originally glued them together, but it’s hard to remember just exactly what. They are sure it wasn’t always guilt, wasn’t always fear.
A portrait of a relationship, Bitter Sweet explores habit, guilt and the things we do to keep the status quo.
Bitter Sweet was first written by Kolbrún in Icelandic in 2007, but has been translated and rewritten since and so it has many versions, the most recent one staged at Discover 21 Theatre in Edinburgh.
The piece is about a couple, M and S, and it follows their early days of slow dancing and repeating clichés of sweet nothings to each other, to a place where they've managed to hurt each other beyond repair, yet they still keep on going. The structure of the piece is in two parts, each following events that happen two years apart, broken up with flashbacks from their past. It requires quite a lot of attention from its actors, but ultimately shows their incredible range.
Kolbrún has been open to actors putting their mark on the writing, so in 2013, when Raquel Ruelas played S she had American sass, where as in 2015 in Kate Foley-Scott's rendition she was 100% geordie. And so the work will always change with each performer that takes it on.