After a successful tour, Bunny Bunny: GILDA RADNER: A Sort of Love Story, an adaptation of Alan Zweibel’s book, performed by Rosaruby Kagan, directed by Tanner Harvey, and designed by Jody Burkholder, returns to the Montreal stage at the Segal Centre.
Sincerely bummed to have missed the last Montreal run at the Freestanding Room on St. Laurent, I jumped at the chance to cover the show for Montreal Rampage. Originally, I had sprung for my “research materials” and realized my copy of Bunny Bunny was no where to be found. Probably for the best, as upon entering the Segal Center, it became overtly clear that there was an experience to be lived here.
Leading up to opening night, Facebook notifications continued to spring up and postcard flyers could be found nearly everywhere in town. Rosabury Kagan could be seen at various other events in town. One was Theatre Sainte-Catherine’s “Depflies: Denizens of the Dépanneur – The little dép that could” for CBC’s Comedy Coup, eating chip-a-ghetti with one hand and thrusting a postcard in your face with the other cheering “Are you coming to the show?” with a charmingly enthusiastic smile.
This “sort of love story” recounts the friendship between SNL writer Alan Zweibel and the beloved not-ready-for-primetime-player, Gilda Radner. But don’t be fooled. here is nothing “sort of love” about anything when it comes to this production whose run coincides with Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary. This is all pure love. Be prepared to hold on to your heartstrings, from the story to the spot on performance by Kagan to the orchestration by Harvey to the effect instigated by Burkholder’s design.
A homage such as this can only be paid by a group who is just as in love with Radner as Zweibel and anyone else who may have crossed her, even if just from their living rooms. The collaboration between artists who were too young to have watched Radner and Zweibel’s careers flourish renders the piece that much more beautiful.
Kagan’s presence alters time as she seamlessly flows through Radner and Zweibel in this one-woman-show, making it impossible to imagine how the essence of Radner and Zweibel could have been captured any better by anyone else. The resemblance to Radner herself is most striking when Kagan raises her cheeks to her eyes in a not-quite-squint. Her ability to tap into an endless pool of energy leaves the audience marveled.
The beautiful, heartbreaking, warm, funny, charming experience created here journeys through a true friendship between life companions over their fourteen year relationship. Harvey’s orchestration of this journey through time and space makes for a clear arc with just the right pacing. My personal bias is Zweibel and Radner at the movie theatre. You still have a chance to get out there and see what I mean.
This show is definite nostalgia for anyone who grew up watching Gilda Radner. It is also a very up close and personal view on the person behind characters such as Judy Miller, Baba Wawa, Roseanne Rosannadanna and Emily Litella.
Bunny Bunny Gilda Radner a Sort of Love Story plays at the Segal Centre November 27 and 29 at 8 p.m., and November 30 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the Segal Centre Box-Office: 514.739.7944. $25/20/18