The First Step Is. . .

Life can be shaky at times for everyone. In Bridget Harris' Out of Control, four women with addictive tendencies meet to share and find strength together. However, things get a little out of hand when they invite a guest speaker, Peter, who thinks he understands women completely. Peter begins to date Sweetie, a member of the group who occasionally smokes pot. Their relationship causes conflict between Sweetie and Brenda, Sweetie's co-worker and tutor who has recently joined the Overindulgers Anonymous group. Although everyone in the play is supposedly an “overindulger,” the play glosses over each woman's issue in order to fit everything in. The result is a low energy, superficial show without much explanation or development. The actors do their best with the weak material. Kat Ross is adorable as Sweetie, the kind of dumb yet endearing single mother pothead. Beverley Prentice is strong as Brenda, a lesbian who needs a job and is slightly bitter about the hand fate has dealt her. Danahar Dempsey is swarmy yet charming as Peter, the woman-controlling psychologist. And yet the dialogue that comes out of the characters' mouths is incredibly bland. When discussing their mysterious co-worker Mary, Sweetie says to Brenda, “running away. . . wow, do you think?” The script is full of weak exclamations and careless repetition.

The play never takes the time to fully develop the characters, instead skirting around their issues. Brenda is portrayed as bitter and heartbroken yet time is not spent examining or developing her problems. Sweeties is more of an occasional pot smoker than an actual addict, so what is driving her to hang out with addicts? More time is spent with the problems of other characters, Dolores and Bunny, who are kleptomaniacs and alcoholics respectively, than with Brenda and Sweetie. Yet the time spent with their problems is just to depict them, not to explain or rationalize them. The result is an unfulfilling sketch when a more meaty play is promised.

The weak script is not helped by the weak staging. Many scenes feature the four women sitting in a circle talking. Or Brenda and Sweetie sitting in Sweetie's trailer smoking. The pacing is incredibly low energy, which is unusual for a comedy, and the constant sitting limits action and does not give the audience much to look at.

Out of Control tries to surprise the audience by throwing in a plot twist towards the end. However, anyone paying the least bit of attention could figure out what the twist will be midway through the performance. With its weak storyline and character development, Out of Control proves to be anything but.

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