52 ways to leave your lover

By James Keller

Shakespeare once wrote "the course of love never did run smooth." According to Vancouver playwright Rita Bozi, this can be no truer than after that love has ended.

"When you split up with someone and you think back on it, you never really remember it in chronological order," begins Bozi, author and co-star of Bozart Production’s 52 Pick Up which plays at One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo. "It’s kind of scrambled in your mind, so that’s sort of the way the audience is getting it too."

Co-written with award-winning playwright T.J. Dawe, Bozi’s play follows the evolution of a couple’s relationship from when they meet until they split-up–although not always in that order.

"You’ve got a deck of 52 cards and on each card, there is the title of a scene," she explains. "They’re scattered across the stage and whatever order we pick them up in, that’s how we play out the show."

Although they are in a different order each show, the scenes always remain the same. Because of this, you may see the break-up as the first scene in the play or see the end of an argument while not finding out the reason until a few cards into the deck. And if you’re still not convinced, Bozart Productions will give anyone who sees the exact same scenes in the same order twice $1 billion–a guarantee, Bozi assures us, that has already been budgeted for.

Each of the 52 scenes represent one part of the relationship and range from three minutes to one or two lines each. This format, along with the content itself, brings the audience into the show. One critic in Edmonton even suspected Bozi of reading her diary.

"It’s a really fun thing because every so often you’ll hear little gasps in the audience or a little ‘ew, I’ve been there before,’" says Bozi, noting the subject’s universal appeal.

The play’s familiarity has, to a large degree, contributed to its success. 52 Pick Up sold out during the Edmonton fringe festival. It was also the top-selling show at the 2000 Montreal Fringe Festival and picked up Chapters’ Best Text award, too.

The inspiration for this play, as one might imagine, comes from real-life experiences and relationships Rita had in the past.

"I’ve got about 10 relationships written into the show," she says. "It’s really funny because I had an ex come to the show this past fall and he went ‘well, that was just a little bit uncomfortable.’"

Like her ex, Bozi expects the rest of the audience will be able to relate.

"We’ve made it very colloquial, very everyday," she begins. "We tried to get down the essence of what’s happening or what’s not happening–what people aren’t saying."

You can see whether or not the people at Bozart have been peering into your diaries and innermost thoughts Jan. 20-23 at the Engineered Air Theatre.

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