Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: (Montreal) Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story

Gilda, in his eyes and words
Talented Kagan pulls off tribute to comic Gilda Radner
by Sarah Deshaies

[This review has been corrected - Ed]
Being 24 years old, I've accumulated what I know about Gilda Radner from YouTube clips, Wikipedia articles and walking by the now-defunct Gilda's Club in Shaughnessy Village. But even through these small scraps of evidence, Gilda's sense of humour and wacky sensibility shines through decades after the lanky performer lit up Saturday Night Live and New York City.

So I was pleased as punch to see Bunny Bunny, because Rosaruby Kagan so completely melts into Gilda's frame and face that a few times there I thought I was watching Gilda herself for a spell.

Kagan incarnates both Gilda Radner and Paul  Alan Zweibel, her buddy and near-lover from SNL. The comedy writer wrote a short memoir commemorating his pal - a "book that was never meant to be read." Kagan and director Tanner Harvey have adapted the content for a one woman show that explores their deep friendship, which begins behind a potted plant at a sketch comedy meeting. It's also a treatise in closely-wound platonic love, an entirely relatable experience made remarkable and special.

Kagan is a mesmerizing delight, flipping between the lithe, girl-like Radner and Zweibel, a big Jewish lug from Long Island. We are there, sitting on varying chairs lining the walls of Freestanding Room as she moves fluidly through the room. 

Kagan, a drama therapist and performer, carries a well-written show on her capable shoulders; anyone else in this role, and I'm not sure how it would have gone.
Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story is a treat for those who remembered Gilda. And for those who don't know the woman, do some research beforehand so you're grounded and in familiar territory when the show begins. You’ll fully enjoy it.

Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story continues until Sunday July 28 at 8 p.m. Venue is the Espace Freestanding Room, 4324 St-Laurent. 80 minutes. Tickets are $15; reservations recommended. 

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