For countless millions, the onset of puberty combined with the social trials and tribulations of high school is the scariest and yet most exciting time of life. There is a sense and sensibility of fear, responsibility for one’s actions and reputation that drive most emerging teens to distraction and not a few of them to self-inflicted death to permanently get out of the assumed spotlight.
For playwright Hannah Moscovitch, her own passage to adulthood and a marvellous imagination have combined to create a play that artfully asks more questions than it answers, but centres around a universal dilemma that in fact or fiction virtually every human being has at one time wrestled with: Is there anything wrong with too much fucking?
In the title role of Sorrel (a.k.a., Bunny to best friend Maggie—Krystin Pellerin is equally effective whether recalling giving birth on a whim or suffering through the ravages of breast cancer), Maev Beaty is the ideal champion of Moscovitch’s fast-moving scenes that delve into burgeoning sexuality through a first actual boyfriend (Emilio Vieira is the real deal as Justin whose request for a prom date rescues the fellating bookworm from oblivion and shame as the graduating class’s reigning slut—sloppy kisses and furtive blow jobs don’t count), affair with her professor (Cyrus Lane has no qualms about displaying his pent-up sexual urges in sleazy locales just so long as his wife remains blissfully unaware), eventual marriage to one from the “other side” (raised by Marxist parents, hubby Carol—Tim Campbell is nothing short of all business whether in the bedroom or the boardroom) and an increasingly sensual infatuation with a hunky young man (as Angel, David Patrick Flemming embodies his character on all fronts and backs) who is dating Lola (Jessica B. Hill), Maggie’s now-seventeen-year-old daughter who would like nothing better than to consume the alluring cougar bait presented so unabashedly by the ravenous mother of two. (Note: Sorrel is a devotee of Elizabethan literature and absolutely revels in sentences even longer than the one previous to this.)
By journey’s end, there’s a discreet bit of pride and very little prejudice as Sorrel struggles with her restless libido and, ironically for some, her capitalist life. Would she be the first well-to-do woman to succumb to a roll in the hay (or here, and oh so Canadian, in a canoe)?
Director Sarah Garton Stanley has done a first-rate job of keeping the narrative zipping along at a pace where the 90-minute span seems to pass by in a flash. Michael Gianfrancesco’s minimalist set and basic costuming let the dialogues and frequent asides (beautifully underscored thanks to Kimberly Purtell’s effective lighting choices) take the prominence they deserve. Lurking unobtrusively but nonetheless artfully contrasting the action in the musical weeds, Alexander MacSween’s score is another pearl in the artistic cluster.
Winding its way through the entire mix is the notion of love: both “forever” and “how about now?” Tellingly—in response to the proverbial question—the answer given three times is “Of course, I love you” rather than the expected, more spontaneous, honest “yes.” Caveat emptor, indeed. JWR