PW presents: Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy

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If you love Saturday Night Live, clowns, or faked orgasms, then Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner is the show for you. Director Jenn Maley ’16 aims to make audience members laugh and cry with a script that pulls you deeper and deeper into an original world of SNL actors and writers. Filled with a cast of gag and character clowns, Bunny Bunny explores the relationship between SNL member Gilda Radner and narrator Alan Zweibel.

Years after their relationship, Zweibel, played by Marty Strauss ’16, reflects on his sometimes-friendship-sometimes-romance with Gilda. With limited narration from Strauss and tons of help from character clowns Sabrina Imbler ’16 and Marli Scharlin ’16, the play leads us through the ups and downs of a long friendship. The audience is taken on a journey from the moment the two meet in a waiting room, to their final moments together before Gilda dies from ovarian cancer. Though the story deceptively presents itself as a romantic comedy, it soon reveals its true self as a serious tale of companionship, trust, and dependence. Though the two never end up together in a romantic sense, the friendship they build guides them through both of their toughest times.

Natalie McDonald’15 plays the loud and spunky Gilda Radner whose effect on the life of Alan Zweibel inspires Bunny Bunny. McDonald expertly manages to perform the growth of her character, transitioning from a somewhat-carefree jokester to a grown woman with more wisdom and experience in the trials of life. Together, Strauss and McDonald make for a charismatic duo – Strauss charming us with his wry commentary and McDonald captivating us with her whimsical magnetism. A cast of clowns, which includes Brad Weekes ’17 and CJ Risman ’17, step in to fill in any missing pieces of the emotional and honest tale of the friendship between Zweibel and Radner.

The set of Bunny Bunny also adds to its charm. What at first appears to be the backstage set of a television studio later transitions into characters’ apartment buildings or even the greenery of Central Park. The various props displayed around the set, along with the number of wigs and costumes worn by the clowns, contribute to the overall playful aesthetic of the show. Though Bunny Bunny is by nature a boisterous comedy, the fluidity of the theater space allows it to become a home for quiet and intimate moments as well.

If you take anything away from Bunny Bunny, it is that comedy can sometimes be the best anecdote to tragedy. With a hard-hitting second act, audiences are forced to ask how one keeps hold onto their joy when the world crashes down on them. Through good spirits and the loyalty of friends, McDonald’s Gilda seems to grasp onto her happiness right until the end. The world Maley presents with Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner relies on its characters’ resilient optimism and will to live, and yes, along the way there are some pretty funny jokes.

Bunny Bunny runs through May 24th. Tickets are available here or at the PW box office an hour before each performance. 

Image via. 


PW presents ‘Bobrauschenbergamerica’

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If you’re not sure what’s going on in Charles Mee‘s Bobrauschenbergamerica, you’re probably not alone. The play, whose title references Neo-Dadaist American painter and sculptor Robert Rauschenber, is directed by Thom Finley ’14 and opens tonight in the PW Downspace. It is whimsical, wacky, and at times, bordering on nonsensical. Which is precisely the point.

The show’s eccentric nature is clear before actors even take the stage. The set, designed by Sam Keamy-Minor ’16, resembles an explosion of an all-American house. Symbols of domestic, small-town American life are strung from the ceiling, creating a web of dust pans, dollhouses, badminton racquets, toy cars, and rolling pins. Slides projected onto hanging white boards give the space a museum-like feel.

Bobrauschenbergamerica is held up by a committed and ceaselessly energetic ensemble cast. Much of the time the members of the show appear onstage all at once, feeling less like a group of individuals and more like a well-oiled machine. The nontraditional narrative structure, which consists of a series of loosely connected vignettes, synchronized dance numbers, audio clips, monologues and wordless sequences, is deliberately vague, demanding audience members’ active intellectual engagement. The dance numbers are just riotously funny, although there is something frightening in the moments of synchronization, something abnormally homogenous.

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PW presents “The Pillowman”

“I don’t really have a worldview. Well, actually, my worldview is that the world is a pile of shit.”

That’s definitely the idea you get as you walk into the Upspace for The Pillowman, which opens tonight at 8 p.m. and runs through Monday. With a dark, minimalist set and eerie dolls hanging on the wall, averting their gaze from the audience, this dystopian world director Andrew Ganem ’16 has created is unsettling before the actors even take the stage.

Yet, it is the cast, as they vacillate abruptly between riotous dark comedy and engrossing drama, that truly brings the text of Martin McDonagh’s terrifyingly brilliant three-act play from 2003 about a writer, Katurian Katurian (Alex Ostroff ’14), accused of carrying out the murders of three children exactly like they take place in his short stories, to life.

First, there’s Tupolski and Ariel, played by Sam Rubinek ’17 and Keston McMillan ’17, the abusive and deliciously sadistic policemen. As they nonsensically question Katurian about murders he did not commit, McDonagh’s biting satire is in its purest form, thanks to Rubinek and McMillan’s mastery of the comic tone and timing. Rubinek, with a drawl reminiscent of a 1950s Chicago mobster, is the good cop (although in this hopeless totalitarian dictatorship, there is no such thing) . McMillan is certainly the bad cop, his speech menacingly quiet and his body language hinting at the imminent doom each of these characters is hurtling towards. The first act belongs to this freshman duo.

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What to do this week: February 19-22

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Wednesday, February 19: 

Event: Writers or Missionaries? Reporting the Middle East
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute

Join the GISP “Wiring the Middle East: Nonfiction Coverage and New Digital Frontiers” and Brown Middle East Studies for a conversation with Adam Shatz, Contributing Editor of London Review of Books. This event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, February 20:

Event: The Days Between
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Granoff Center

Check out this new opera by Ben Kutner ’14, directed by Zach Rufa ’14. Can’t make it on Thursday? Don’t worry: there will be 3 other performances on Friday the 21st at 8p.m., and Saturday the 22nd at both 2p.m. and 8p.m. According to the event description, this original production, based loosely on the Arab Spring, “follows four national figures as they weather the power vacuum after their leader’s death – each attempting to ride out on top.”

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In the Downspace: Waiting for Godot

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“Nothing to be done.” So begins Samuel Beckett’s theater of the absurd, where the characters dither and fumble in a blind vacuum as they hope in vain for their existences to be validated.

A new production of the canonical “Waiting for Godot,” directed by Patrick Madden ’15, opens tonight in the Production Workshop Downspace. For such a widely performed work (it’s currently running on Broadway with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart), Madden’s take hits close to home. Swinging from idealistic to cynical, arrogant to self-loathing, Vladimir, Estragon, and friends embody the near-constant identity crisis college students know all too well.

The entire play takes place near a crooked, skeletal tree on the country roadside. The stage is an elongated platform covered with sand, which adds an interesting element of realism. It swirls up in dust clouds when the characters get rambunctious, and trickles out from sleeves and pockets as though it’s slipping through an hourglass. A pile of cinderblocks replaces the “low mound” in Beckett’s script, hinting not at nature but at urban decay.

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PW presents ‘In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play’

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In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, which opens tonight at 8:00 p.m. and runs through Monday, October 21st, is on the surface a rollicking comedy—a story of sex and deceit with a good dose of physical and slapstick humor and witty retorts. However, around fifteen minutes in, you begin to realize In the Next Room is not merely a wildly entertaining, 21st-century Oscar Wilde-esque play, but a modern feminist manifesto.

Directed masterfully by Karin Nilo ’14 and written by Sarah Ruhl ’97 MFA ’01, In the Next Room is set in Victorian-era New York and follows Mrs. Givings, a woman whose husband treats female (and later male) patients for hysteria using the vibrator, and Mrs. Daldry, one of Dr. Givings patients, as they discover their sexuality and slowly take control of their bodies. Continue Reading