Rarely is an entire production of a play so superbly written, faithfully directed, exquisitely acted, and sensitively designed with set, props, costumes, lighting, sound and stage management, each supporting the whole, as the Search Party production of Bunny now playing at the Anvil Theatre in New Westminster until February 18.
Words fail to describe this must-see masterpiece adequately. Each powerful vignette fits like a jigsaw to create the journey of Bunny (Emma Slipp), otherwise known as Sorrel, from an awkward, isolated young teen with a penchant for books by the Brontes, Austin and George Elliott offset by strong sexual desires and encounters, until her final redemption as a mature adult at the hands of her best and only friend Maggie played with moving empathy by Lucy McNulty.
The play begins as it ends, with Slipp, magnificent in the title role, beautifully supported by Teo Saefkow as Angel, the 23-year-old boyfriend of Maggie’s delightful daughter Lola (Pamela Carolina Martinez). They paddle a red canoe created by laying a red blanket over a day bed. That same bed plays an intrinsic part in some of the sexually explicit scenes that follow. While they might offend some, each is a triumph of taste superbly blended with sensuality.
Sorrel tells her story in the third person, addressing the audience directly. Her shamed self-image of a sexy dork, created in large part by her high school classmates, persists throughout her life and becomes compulsive until friendship and acceptance grant her peace.
Hannah Moscovitch’s brilliantly crafted script overflows with humour, pathos and raw truth, and Mindy Parfitt’s insightful, nuanced direction gives each actor licence to explore every aspect of their character and gel harmoniously with the others to produce a stunning overall performance with no weak link.
Every cast and crew member deserves an individual accolade, but there is little room to include anything other than the names of the remaining actors who weave in and out of the labyrinth created by tall louvred panels in Amir Ofek’s dramatic set. They are Kyle Jespersen as Maggie’s rich brother who eventually marries Sorrel, Dylan Floyde as Sorrel’s first steady boyfriend and Jay Hindle, her passionate lover-professor. All excel.
Tickets are still available to take advantage of this opportunity to witness, in person, theatre at its finest at the Anvil in New Westminster.
Bunny by Hannah Moscovitch. Directed by Mindy Parfitt. A The Search Party production, presented by the Anvil Theatre. On stage at the Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St, New Westminster) until February 18. Visit anviltheatre.ca for tickets and information.