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L.A. Beat

Pissy’s Wife is “astonishing”

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Erica Hunt is “astonishing” in  New West Theatre’ s latest production, Marg Szkaluba (Pissy’s Wife). Hunt plays  “hard woman” Marg Szkaluba , a mid-’50s rural wife who gets pregnant in Grade 10 and marries God-fearing “Pissy”  thus entering a world of endless boredom, a vicious cycle of child rearing, making meals, keeping house, watching TV  and beatings as Pissy proves you can be God-fearing” and still not be Godly.Kathy Zaborsky and Erica Hunt. Photo by Richard Amery
 She approaches her challenges with aplomb and dignity and a lot of dark wit.
Marg tries to escape her boredom and “be astonished”  through reading women’s magazines and making new recipes until she falls in with a group of women her own age who sing in the woods thanks to a  “saint” from the bakery named Jessie.
What makes Erica Hunt astonishing is not only that she had to learn to play guitar in two weeks (much of Marg’s story is told through her songs), but had to learn all of the lines in the play. She completely envelopes and embodies the character of Marg so you feel her pain, every “cuff”, every emotion, every regret, every lost opportunity, every experience and every emotion she’s feeling.
The smoke filled stage is designed  like a country bar replete with wooden tables and green table cloths. There is even a bar for those who want to have a drink with Marg during the show.
Kathy Zaborsky is another highlight, providing a variety of background accompaniment music using piano, a tambourine on her foot, bells and even a kazoo.
I really enjoyed  Marg’s  poignant and often brilliantly hilarious  songs which are enhanced by Zaborsky”s musical prowess..
 Zaborsky also created a very cool choir effect by using her voice in a variety of overlapping delay loops in the scene where Marg first discovers the singers.
Hunt even adds a southern twang to her voice (both speaking and singing), sounding like a female Forrest Gump, — just a simple woman trying to make sense out of a complex and sometimes violent world.
There is some rough language in the production, a lot of drama and  quite a bit of humour, though most of the story surrounds Marg’s efforts to escape her abusive husband, boring life and trying to be “astonished.”
Marg Szkaluba (Pissy’s Wife) will make you think, cry and laugh.
Showtime is 8 p.m. in the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Oct. 7-10 with a matinee Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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