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!!

Rarely Pure Theatre’s “Choking the Butterfly” 

Rarely Pure Theatre’s latest piece, James Johnson’s Choking the Butterfly is absolutely not to be missed! Premiering this past weekend at Windsor’s Garage Door Theatre, this stunning work was intense and moving beyond expectations.

Looking at the lives of formerly conjoined twins, whose knowledge of the world barely extends past one another, Choking the Butterfly takes us on a journey of self discovery and self loss, questioning all the while if one can exist without the other.

The show is embodied by three excellent performers: Christna Bryson, Ken Caughey and Michael Hogan. These actors mesmerized the audience, making the show’s 80 minutes feel like no time had passed at all. Bryson’s performance as Betty was every bit as strong and powerful as Johnson intended, as we witness Betty’s wings unfurl little by little. Her transformation is in such stark contrast to her brother Barney’s (Caughey) decline, and yet you pity each of them in their own way. Caughey nearly had me in tears; to watch Barney try to be like Betty, try to be a strong man, and yet constantly face physical and mental roadblocks made me ache for him. Brody, played by Hogan, becomes this interesting influential force in the lives of Betty and Barney, aiding in their simultaneous rise and fall. We see his personal struggles come through in every action, every decision Brody makes, and then watch their affect on the twins. Truly, I was amazed at the performances that were given, the dedication and full embodiment of these characters was wonderful to behold, and makes it such a can’t miss show. 

The set being simple and versatile, and so perfectly suited to the space made it a true experience for the audience. The bare costuming lets us focus on them as people while also providing us with constant reminders of where they’ve been over the course of the story. We see their hardships written on their bodies, their clothes and in their faces. The audience is faced with the gravity of the situation without anything to distract them, which makes the work all the more engaging and heartbreaking.

If you’re in the Toronto area and want to catch this amazing show, it’s on at The Storefront Theatre from June 9-12 and 15-19. You can check out their Facebook page for more info and tickets!