Review by E. Lisa Moses
The world première of Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch’s one-act play, Bunny, at the Stratford Festival, crams a lifetime onto the Studio Theatre’s tiny stage – all in 90 minutes. Under director Sarah Garton Stanley’s firm hand, Maev Beaty’s memorable performance as Sorrel takes us on a roller-coaster ride along two decades of her quirky life through both narration and acting.
Nicknamed “Bunny” by her best friend for the frightened looks she gets in social situations, Sorrel begins frolicking and fornicating through life at age 17. In this watershed year, she morphs from an “ugly dork” into a “hot dork” with the cheekbones and body of a supermodel.
Photo by David Hou
Having spent her formative years under the thumbs of her Marxist academic parents, she grew up with her nose buried in Victorian novels and wearing hideous second-hand rags. This did little to prepare her for the sudden attention she garnered as a gorgeous babe. In the hormone-driven teen and high-school years, Sorrel soon gains a reputation as a “dorky slut” who sees nothing wrong with satisfying her sexual needs with anyone, anywhere – yet not grasping why the girls shunned her.
Fortunately, one gal decides to befriend her, striking a relationship that lasts through the ages. Maggie, played by Krystin Pellerin, is a model BFF who puts up with Bunny’s shenanigans and works hard to constantly prop up her low self-esteem. After many romps, including with Ethan, Cyrus Lane’s ardent married professor, Sorrel pains her parents by marrying Carol, a rich smartphone-toting capitalist played effectively by Tim Campbell. She goes on to lead a seemingly regular life with kids, furs, a career – and a family cottage with a classic red canoe. And in the canoe, she slips back into her old self, being unable to resist the advances of David Patrick Flemming’s scrumptious and mysterious boy toy, Angel.
While Beaty and the supporting cast hold the audience’s attention with commanding performances, the play tries to do too much in 90 minutes, and sometimes feels caught in the headlights. The heavy sex scenes, while well done, take time away from the girls’ relationship; and questions like why Maggie continued to put up with Bunny. The guys are great eye candy, but we didn’t need to see as much of them.
“Bunny” is at the Studio Theatre until September 24th.