Stratford Festival’s “Bunny”

I was fortunate enough to attend the first preview of Bunny back on July 29th. It’s absolutely exhilarating to know that you’re in the first performance of a show, especially when it’s a brand new Canadian play. Bunny is a fascinating story which is masterfully told by the Stratford Cast.

The piece is narrated by Sorrel, played by Maeve Beatty, as she goes through some of the most pivotal points in her life thus far. We watch as Sorrel goes from being painfully shy and unliked, so desirable (albeit still rather shy); the way her awkwardness was captured and expressed was so beautifully real, I absolutely loved it. It was incredible to watch her begin to own her womanhood in a deeply sexual way which is usually shied away from on stage.

Once she gets to college, she meets Maggie, who calls Sorrel “bunny” because she’s always nervous “like a rabbit.” Maggie becomes Sorrel’s lifelong friend, and as their bond strengthens and their lives intertwine more and more, we see the kinds of true connections Sorrel becomes capeable of.

The cast is small but mighty, helmed by Beatty and Krystin Pellerin, with amazing performances by Tim Campbell, Cryus Lane, David Patrick Flemming, Jessica B Hill and Emilio Vieira.

One of the aspects I loved the most was how Sorrel was rarely (if ever) off stage. She transformed physically before our eyes, always in a blue dress with some form of brown shoes and accessories. She was aided in these transformations by the other characters, giving us a glimpse at their relationship usually encore we’re ever introduced to them. The set was also simple, but had many moving parts which where also operated by the actors; it was the perfect embodiment of how others shape our lives.

Maggie’s character really touched my heart, for many reasons, but mostly I think because I saw much more of myself in her than I did in Sorrel. But with my Mother being a Breast Cancer Survivor as well, the play really hit home. It was written so beautifully and with so much truth about our society, I look forward to seeing it staged and restaged for years to come.

Bunny only runs until September 24th, so get your tickets before this amazing and moving production is gone!!

Drawing Board Production’s “Working Title: Undecided”

There are few things more exhilarating than getting to see a world première of a play. What can only make the experience better is when you have the absolute honour of knowing the artists involved in such a marvellous creation. Working Title: Undecided was presented at the University of Windsor at the inaugural UWillDiscover Research Conference (they won 2nd place in the performance category), as well as in the Jackman Centre for the Dramatic Arts on March 29th. Never fear! There are still a few more chances to catch this fantastic show!

One person shows should be a category of theatre unto themselves given their extraordinary nature. It is no easy feat to control a room on your own for over an hour, yet Working Title: Undecided’s star Tamlynn Bryson did just that. She was enchanting and amusing, letting us all into the mind of Tess, a woman with a very big decision on her hands. The way she was able to involve the audience in so many ways was wonderful, fun, and impressive, and will continue to work well for their future performances. Tamlynn was able to take the audience on a trip through all of the varying emotions facing Tess in a way that made the audience invested in the outcome of her decision while also having their own hopes for what her answer will be. Tess became very charming, and as an audience member I started to care about the conclusion of the play and what she was going to do because you really felt like you got to know her personally over the course of the play. This, of course, is also not easy to do, but by the reactions of the other audience members at the end of the play, they were similarly affected. Having the ability to not only connect to one’s audience but also to keep them fully engaged for such a long time is, to me, the sign of a well-seasoned actress, and I’m sure that Tamlynn is going to have a bright future in the theatre.

Tamlynn’s partner in crime for this piece was Kyle Kimmerly, who helped to not only direct the play, but also wrote it with her. The topic for the play (which I shan’t reveal, it would give too much away) is a fun one, and one that any audience member can relate to in some way. But then to hear about what a collaborative process it was and continues to be, and the amount of improvisation that is involved (because of the audience involvement) makes it all the more of an amazing feat. Kyle’s direction allowed for that collaborative process to have this beautiful outcome, and really tell Tess’ story in this fun, original way. For two young actors, who are just on the cusp of their careers to create something this impressive and this entertaining is truly awesome. When the play finished, I was blown away to think that I know the two brilliant minds behind this work. The creativity and style of both of these fine artists permeated the work and made it a true pleasure to watch.

I honestly cannot urge you enough to get out and see this wonderful new Canadian play for yourself! They will be showing the play at the Old Walkerville Theatre in May and in June at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Please get out and see this award winning show and support some wonderful local actors!