Written by Mark Hooker
Directed by Maureen L. O’Connell
What does a violinist with early onset Alzheimers and a transgender teenager have in common?
Well, apparently quite a bit, including the love and support of a particularly brave family.
"Hopping down the Bunny Trail" marks yet another interesting and compelling play from the artists at The Eclectic Theatre, taking us in an unexpectedly amusing direction, for such a tragic story. A middle aged man, Ronny, is diagnosed with Alzheimers, and we follow his life as he struggles with losing his independence, his grip on reality and ultimately his fear of losing his family. In fact, it is the fear of the unknown that is really at the center of the play. Who of us could really ever know how we might cope with this terrible and cruel disease, and that is why the play works so well I think. It taps in to what for most of us is one of our deepest fears, losing ourselves.
The other story in this play, and one that offers a very interesting juxtaposition to Ronny’s story is that of Elsa, Ronny’s daughter’s fiancé’s brother, who is rapidly becoming his sister, going through her transgender journey, and feeling as torn and lost as Ronny in many ways.
Throughout the play these two disparate characters find solace in each other in ways that surprise us all. Elsa is especially adept at coping with Ronny’s utter loss of time, throwing a 70s party to make him feel at home, when Ronny truly believes that he is living in that era. Her love for him and her own unique experience with change enables her to much more easily except the rapidly evolving reality of Ronny’s illness, and she does this in a very real and very touching way.
Bold performances, challenging subject matter and excellent casting make this play a success.
The writer, Mark Hooker, has managed to capture the fluid nature of life, and the almost comical adaptability of family, the right kind of family that is, when faced with the prospect of loss, change or death.
There is a lot going on on stage. Even when Ronny is all alone, looking into the void as it were, we can almost see him diminishing, before our very eyes.
It’s a very stirring performance, quite simple, nothing overplayed or ‘theatrical,’ and all the more poignant.
There is also some really wonderful play with Ronny’s therapist, who may or may not be all in his head. It’s a great way of letting us see inside Ronny's mind.
The performances are stellar, and it’s a fairly big cast for such an intimate theatre. But this play deserves to be told with all the bells and whistles…and every actor commits with such obvious delight to the characters they play that it’s a thrill to watch them, and they honestly do a brilliant job.
I cannot help but wonder if this play might not make a fabulous film. All the elements are there, tragedy, family, humor and love…just a thought!!
I’ve probably given too much away already, but suffice it to say "Hoping Down The Bunny Trail," premiering at The Eclectic theatre, is well worth your time and money!
It’s a short run so don’t wait too long or ‘the Bunny’ will be long gone!!
August 11th through August 28th at The Eclectic Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd, North Hollywood, 91607
Thursday-Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 2PM
Ronny - Michael C. Silva
The Man - Michael Turner & Roger K. Weis
Dan - David Datz
Todd - Marcus Karlsson
Anne - Cara Failer
Elsa - Michelle Stratton
Eileen - JC Henning