When I was a kid I watched a lot of nature documentaries. One thing that always fascinated me – apart from animals’ bizarre eating behaviours – was the variety of mating rituals used by different species, especially birds. Some danced to attract mates. Some puffed themselves up to look bigger. Some built elaborate nests. Some gave gifts.
Eventually I got a book that described mating and sexual behaviours of dozens of different species in detail, focused mostly on sea creatures. Fascinating stuff.
I’ve always been interested in the variety of ways that humans interact with animals. Some people consider their pets to be their children, which is fine I guess, until you consider the implications of things like keeping them in cages. When my son was little he got in trouble at school because he insisted his pet cat was his sister. Other people take their relationships with animals to greater extremes, some more disturbing than cute.
Which brings us to Bite Me Big Time, a new sketch comedy play written by Windsor-based group The Pickle Jam Collective. It was submitted to the Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest in 2021, and while we at Post Productions found it hilarious we didn’t think it really fit our brand of theatre. So we approached Purple Theatre Company about the possibility of producing it together, since we definitely wanted to see it onstage and it seemed a perfect fit with Purple’s brand. And here we are; Bite Me Big Time will premier at The Shadowbox Theatre on 15 July 2022.
The sketches revolved around two therapists (played by Kevin Doak and Fay Lynn) who are visited by a series of clients who relate to animals in bizarre and hilarious ways.
Some of these people want to be animals. In “High on Edibles” two women, Maria (played by Mikayla Bondy) who wants to be a black widow spider, and Wendy (played by Jennifer Desaulniers) who wants to be a preying mantis, seek their therapists’ help because they’d like to start a “throuple” with the terrified man (played by Michael K. Potter) they’ve both been seeing. They’re worried that his previous relationships might have made him unwilling to accept this new arrangement and are hoping the therapists can help make it happen. The problem, of course, is that both women want to kill him after mating.
And in “Ostrichgasm” Harriet (played by Linda Collard) can’t have normal relationships because she doesn’t understand the point of even having a partner, since she climaxes whenever she walks.
And then there’s “Whale Tale”, in which Duane (played by Michael K. Potter) tries at first to convince the therapist that he needs to prove everyone is crazy except for him, but eventually reveals his real problem: he wants to be a whale and society won’t accept that.
Other sketches deal with people whose relationships with animals are, well, out of the ordinary. In “Not Eggactly Love” Marcel (played by Joey Ouellette) needs help because his family and friends think he’s crazy for marrying a hen. Not only that, his chicken bride, named Pauline, doesn’t even like him.
Buck (played by Alyx Magwood) in “Leave it to Beaver” has a very different sort of problem: a childhood incident led him to enjoy dressing as a tree and being peed on by dogs. How can this desire be reconciled with the prudish demands of our civilized world?
In “Fish Tale” Mandy (played by Shana Thibert) learned after a pedicure gone right that she enjoys being nibbled on by fish. She’s no longer content with merely having her toes nibbled – now she has bigger plans and is thinking of bigger fish.
Speaking of alluring sea creatures, Janetta (played by Rebecca Mickle) and Francis (played by Michael K. Potter) seek therapy due to Janetta’s work with dolphins. The problem isn’t that she works with dolphins, really, but that her job involves pleasuring a particular dolphin named after Zac Effron, which threatens to ruin her marriage.
Then we have sketches about people who are – or act like – animals. If you’ve ever looked at your cat and wondered whether you’d accept its behaviour if it were a human roommate, these sketches are for you.
Jamie (played by Joey Ouellette) acts like a cat, and Willie (played by Alyx Magwood) acts like a dog in “Adopted Brothers”. These two are forced to live together but their personalities and instincts are so different they need professional help in order to bring peace to their home.
Jenny (played by Chantel Pare) in “Squirrel Girl” is becoming concerned about a gentleman caller who acts as many dogs do – which wouldn’t be such a problem if Jenny weren’t a squirrel.
In “Bee Calm” a group of women (played by Mikayla Bondy, Jennifer Desaulniers, Chantel Pare, Linda Collard, Rebecca Mickle, and Shana Thibert) seek help because they’ve discovered they’ve all been seeing the same man (played by Joey Ouellette) who appears to be conning them and treating them like a harem as is often the case with insects.
Jan (played by Shana Thibert) and Yasmin (played by Linda Collard) in “Shark Sisters” have been in a relationship for seven years but their relationship is showing cracks now that Jan has been bringing men home. Not only must they keep moving to stay alive, they must unearth the deeper desire at the root of their unhappiness.
In “Penguin Men”, two men who are, well, penguins – Barnaby (played by Joey Ouellette) and Marcus (played by Alyx Magwood) — are concerned they may have to leave their church, which disapproves of their close and affectionate relationship.
Finally there are two sketches at the very end of Bite Me Big Time that don’t really fit in any of the categories above.
The problem in “Snake Oil” is one of belief, specifically a childhood belief that Ellen (played by Rebecca Mickle) just can’t shake: namely that snakes are detached penises and clams are detached vaginas.
And in “Pigs” four members of the Guinea Pig Socialization Association seek help because three of them have become inspired by the behaviour of their guinea pigs. In short, when they get together their guinea pigs like to mate with each other. Wendy (played by Mikayla Bondy), Gwendoline (played by Jennifer Desaulniers), and Mitchell (played by Alyx Magwood) believe the human members of the club should start emulating the guinea pigs – but Brad (played by Michael K. Potter) won’t cooperate.
There’s something for everyone with a bizarre slightly perverse sense of humour in Bite Me Big Time. You’ll find yourself laughing at things you’ve never thought of before, things you worry you shouldn’t find funny, and characters who might sometimes resemble people you’ve met.
Bite Me Big Time will be performed at The Shadowbox Theatre (103b – 1501 Howard avenue) July 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30. Show time 8:00 PM (doors open 7:30). Tickets $20 via postproductionswindsor.ca or cash at the door. Written by The Pickle Jam Collective. Directed by Joey Ouellette. Produced by Joey Ouellette, Fay Lynn, and Michael K. Potter. Bite Me Big Time is a co-production of Post Productions and Purple Theatre Company, in association with Waawiiyaatanong Feminist Theatre.