Maliscious Bunny - Talk about a dark comedy…
Meet Angela and Jonathon. A young, very attractive couple, married a few years and seemingly happy. Jonathon arrives home one day to find his wife has changed more than a little. She is bored, depressed and she wants a divorce.
Well beyond persuasion and Jonathon’s pleading, she maintains that the only respite from her misery, the only way, in fact, she could possibly stay married to Jonathon is if he kills her parents.
Now I suppose we have all wished for someone or other in our lives, or indeed in politics currently, to be dead. But Angela has actually thought about this, in depth it seems. With her parents dead and especially since they loath Jonathon and are coldly indifferent to her, the pair would have plenty of money. Jonathon would not have to work at his lousy maintenance job, Angela could pursue her dream of being an artist, and they could leave their cramped, one-room apartment and move on up to the penthouse atop their building.
Jonathon seems understandably under-impressed by this plan and tries all he can to convince Angela that he just can’t do it. But, in the end, he makes a promise and he proceeds to plan Angela’s grisly request.
While Jonathon was wrestling with his conscience, before his promise to Angela, he alluded to the scheme over a weekend of gambling with his friend Greg, where he has a last ditch attempt to win the millions of dollars that Angela so desires. It is Greg, in the end, whose intense loyalty to Jonathon unwittingly convinces him that when you love someone you must do whatever necessary to keep them.
All this time we, the audience, are lulled into the very false sense that Jonathan could never really go through with this, or that Angela would change her mind somehow, remembering perhaps how much she loved her parents or that crime never pays, or something. But once we meet them, the parents that is, these possibilities are quickly dispelled.
It turns out that Mr and Mrs Parsby, played by the wonderfully awful Jennifer Edwards and Larry Gilman, are really pretty wretched. Rude, judgmental, indifferent to others, snobbish, dismissive and small minded, I think I might be tempted to knock them off myself if they were mine. And so the play twists and turns and we are left to wonder what we might be prepared to do ourselves given the same set of circumstances.
It’s all very thought-provoking with lots of passion and some very real chemistry between Angela and Jonathon, played with daring by Heidi-Marie Ferren and Markus Taylor. His friend Greg, played by Andrew McIntyre, is particularly believable. An irritating, ethically bankrupt, snivelling opportunist, still living in his mother's basement who meets his own nasty end, much to my delight.
It’s a bit of a blood bath, quite brilliantly. What could have been tame and predictable turns out to be violent, strangely allegorical and even a bit parabolic. Not too shabby for Mr Sprosty’s L.A. debut and Malicious Bunny’s world premiere.
The cast are wonderful to a fault. The two detectives, Ispy and Grillings, played by the fab James Vallejo and Tess Kartel, are quite a pair, fluctuating between inept and farcical, reminiscent of Dogberry and Verges from "Much Ado about Nothing." They blunder and blow their way through the criminal aspects of the play all the while remaining sweetly hilarious and perfect foils. In the end, the morality of the play seems hardly the point, such is the perfection of the performances and the clearly displayed enjoyment of the actors grappling with such gritty material.
It’s a great play masterfully performed and I high recommend it. Such a change from the norm, and quite cinematic and enigmatic with fourth wall breaks and nods to the Coen Brothers and Steven Soderbergh. I do hope this play earns the praise it deserves… I loved it!
Written by Matthew Sprosty
Directed by Bryan Fox
Markus Taylor - Jonathon
Heidi-Marie Ferren - Angela
Andrew McIntyre - Greg
Larry Gilman - Mr Parsby
Jennifer Edwards - Mrs Parsby
James Vallejo - Detective Ispy
Tess Kartel - Detective Grillings
Markus Taylor – Producer
Bianca Collins - Co-Producer
Ashley Eisenhauer – Co-Producer
Anwesha Kundu - Set Design
Jordan Reynolds & Boo Jarchow - Social Media
Natalie Stavola - Stage Manager
Martha Carter - Lighting Design
Kirsten Turkle - Costume Designer
Noelle Sammour - Sound Design
Ryan Cartony - Ass. Costume Design
Shawna Voragen - Board Technician
Nora Feldman - Publicist