The fifth character in the play that acted as a connection to the audience, a narrator, and a communicator between the four friends was the cafe barista, Roselyn, played by Kristyn Emmerzael. She was a very likeable character with a quick wit and charismatic charm. Though she wasn’t one of the four focus characters, she was also well developed and went through personal changes and struggles. Roselyn was subtly sarcastic as she constantly poked fun at Gabe for her excessive partying and drinking. She is a writer and would ask the audience about their lives during set/costume changes. This made for more interesting transitions. Roselyn struggles to get her book published and in the end she finds success. She was a key to developing the girls back story. The four already know all of each other’s’ history, but Roselyn doesn’t. The audience got a chance to hear about the girls past when they would tell their old stories to Roselyn. The addition of Roselyn as a character, rather than just a faceless barista, gave the four a stronger connection to the cafe and made an extra link between them.
The set was absolutely fantastic. The Pick Me Ups was set in a local coffee shop where the girls always meet. This play was performed in a secretive, basement bar called The Bower. Its central Jasper Ave location made it easily accessible, while its small secluded nature made for a comfy, and intimate experience. April Ashley Killins, said after the show that “She was thrilled she got to do an installation piece at The Bower. It’s not often that theater and Edmonton nightlife collide.” The audience inhabited the bar’s many antique style couches while munching on free cookies (served by the actress playing the barista) and sipping on coffee or wine or beer! It was such a lovely experience to share with friends. The actors interacted with the audience here and there, and they really made them feel as if they were listening in on the private conversation of strangers at the next table.
The script showed the spunk and crude humor of its fabulously funny director Nathania Bernabe. There was plenty of coarse language and dirty jokes throughout the play. One of my favorite lines from the play was when Gabe was talking about a cute old couple and she said, “I’m jaded at f$@k, but they reminded me I have an organ called a heart . . .” Not to mention, the brilliant scene where the girls acted out this old couple for Roslyn to demonstrate how cute they are. They used a chair as a walker and they put on their best old people voices. It was a hilarious and entertaining way to demonstrate the concept of ever-lasting love. Though Gabe was the obvious class clown, who got most of the comical lines, Nathania made sure that all the characters got a few laugh and were allowed to be sarcastically funny too. One thing that could have been improved about Gabe was that the script had her drunk or hung over too many times. Being the fun drunk was part of her gag, but it felt as though there was an excess of “Gabe hung over” scenes.
Katrina Beatty, the director, grew up with a supportive group of friends just like the girls in this play. She was able to bring her personal experience and an honesty to the show. She also did a great job of moving the actors through time and developing methods for the audience to follow the girls through a year of their ups and downs. A big part that helped these transitions were the costumes. The girls all had their own unique style and the party girls (Gabe and Kim) always showed up in something interesting and sexy after a night out on the town. For the Fourth of July, Gabe wore a pair of American flag booty shorts. The ladies also sported some fantastic green wear for St. Patrick’s Day.
Another great transition method was the music. In between each day or scene, a song would play to set the mood. The song choices were fantastic. The tech ran smoothly thanks to Katie Gallin. Since the space didn’t allow for many lighting changes, most of the tech involved sound and projection. When Alice moves to Toronto the girls communicate to her via Skype. To show her end of the conversation, they used a projection screen where the audience could see Alice. This was great because they could not only hear her voice, but also see her facial expressions. The idea was great, but I think it would have been executed a bit better if the other three girls sat closer to the screen and they dimmed the light. This would have made the connection between the friends more clear and it would have been easier for the audience to view the screen.
Seeing The Pick Me Ups was a fantastic experience. The set, the bold characters, and the comical dialogue made it an unforgettable show. This play demonstrated what true friendship really means; the bond between these four friends made an excellent framework for this spectacular play.