First produced at the Stratford Festival, and written by Hannah Moscovitch, BUNNY is a play about a girl, Sorrell, nicknamed “Bunny”. Bunny grows up, discovers puberty, and takes to sex like a rabbit takes to carrots. Bunny enjoys a large number of lovers, most of whom would be inappropriate by any standard. Are her sexual adventures innocent and beyond societal judgement? Or do they represent a darker force lurking behind a child-like persona?
Lights go up on a woman on stage. She begins to relate the tale of a young girl named “Bunny”. Slowly, we realize this narrator (played by Maev Beaty) is talking about herself at various stages in her development. The narrator soon morphs into Bunny, who then meets and interacts with a wide range of characters.
Maev Beaty plays Bunny with charm and a kind of moral blankness that leaves one with mixed feelings both about the character and the playwright’s intent. Is Bunny a person trying to find “herself”, an advanced woman, sexually liberated, or is she really a person with an incomplete soul, one who walks through life, leaving emotional wreckage, intentionally or not?
Bunny’s parents are morally righteous academics, armchair intellectuals who abhor capitalism and consumerism. They dress Bunny in shapeless recycled clothing which hides her blossoming physique. Bunny doesn’t use computers and iPhones so she doesn’t actually relate to other kids or their lifestyles. Bunny’s only companions are the novels she reads, mostly Victorian.
Intellectually robust, Bunny never really understands herself, which leaves her in the dark about what others might feel. She attempts to follow “social norms”, be a good person, and have sex with appropriate parties. Still, for Bunny, sex is more of a sensation, rather than an awakening. She loves it, but it doesn’t seem to teach her much. Importantly, she does not fully grasp that sex in any form has consequences. She seems particularly clueless in this area. Bunny rarely reveals her feelings. This leaves her in the dark about what she feels and how others feel about her. Even her nickname “Bunny” is meant to suggest her frightened, tremulous quality. Fearful people are often full of rage, and deploy it in ingenious ways.
Everyone, especially a young audience, should see Bunny, if only because the cast is excellent. Rachel Cairns, Matthew Edison, Cyrus Lane, Jesse LaVercome, Tony Ofori, and Gabriella Albino are all quite terrific. It’s rare that one sees such a well-matched team of actors, and director Sarah Garton Stanley know how to showcase each one. Maev Beaty does a fine job as Bunny, but I would have preferred that she suggested more of Bunny’s cunning. There is something not very nice about Bunny, and I feel that on some level, Bunny knows she intends to hurt those she sleeps with, or wound those close to them.
Maev Beaty – Sorrel
Rachel Cairns – Maggie
Matthew Edison – Carol
Cyrus Lane – The Professor
Jesse LaVercombe – Angel
Tony Ofori – Justin
Gabriella Albino – Lola
Directed by Sarah Garton Stanley
All photos: Cylla von Tiedemann