The Bitter End: Kurt puts spotlight on break ups

The Bitter End Kurt Phelan
Kurt Phelan

A break-up can often result in a few common scenarios: crying into one’s pillow, living off Rocky Road ice cream, downing that bottle of Bourbon or all of the above.

Yet actor-writer Kurt Phelan chose a different route: he wrote a play.

Currently playing as part of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival, Kurt’s debut play, The Bitter End, explores the classic rom-com breakup scenario but with a technological edge.

Already having been described as “The Social Network meets Holding The Man”, The Bitter End follows Sean, played by Kurt, dealing with being dumped by a boyfriend who gave him “love, technology, Facebook and other drugs then decided to pull the plug.”

“Only to keep him online to ‘tag’ and ‘like’ him whenever it suits,” Kurt said.

“Once upon a time when you broke up with someone, you’d never see them again and now we have to face them every day with Facebook but we can’t actually talk or connect with them.”

The initial concept for the play arose towards the end of 2010 after Kurt had been trawling through archived emails from an old flame.

“It wasn’t until we got into the rehearsal room about a year later and took it away from something that happened to me and started making it into an actual story that I could finally put myself in the seat of compassion and not anger and that’s when it became therapeutic,” he said.

“I’ve used stories that have happened to other people too and the structure of online chats with people that I’ve saved and wrote around because I was interested in how we actually connect now.”

That interest threw Kurt into a year-long writing frenzy and, in true rom-com fashion, his writing didn’t actually begin to soar until his heart did. Awww.

“I’m totally in love now,” he gushes.

“Last year, there were sections of the show, mainly love scenes, that I just couldn’t write and was like, ‘I cant write love scenes! I can’t imagine ever being happy again! This is f***ed!’

“And then my dramaturg was like, ‘What happened? You just wrote all those scenes in a week!’ and I was like, ‘Yea, I’ve met someone.’”

Now that’s a happy ending. Roll credits. 

The Bitter End, starring Kurt Phelan, Catherine Davies and Matt Hopkins, directed by Stephen Nicolazzo, plays as part of the Midsumma Festival Downstairs at Alma’s
 from January 29 – 31, Sunday 7pm, Monday and Tuesday 8.30pm.

For more information visit

Matthew Backer

Matthew graduated from the University of QLD with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 2005, later completing his cadetship on The Fraser Coast Chronicle newspaper in 2006. Matthew went on to graduate from NIDA with a Bachelor of Dramatic Art Acting in 2010. Upon graduating, he appeared in Private View which toured to Melbourne's Theatre Works in early 2011. Matthew’s main stage debut was playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys throughout 2011. He’ll next be seen in the new Aussie app series, Surry, set to go live in early 2012.

Matthew Backer

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