When Alan Zweibel met Gilda Radner in 1975, he was hiding behind a potted plant. Zweibel was up for a writing gig and Gilda.. well, anyone who saw the first Saturday Night Live will never forget her.
|Brendan Hunt (Zweibel) Erin Pineda (Gilda) Photo by Chelsea Sutton|
Some stories don’t have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Remember that first Saturday Night Live with George Carlin? It featured a fake commercial for a three bladed razor!
“Bunny Bunny” was an incantation that Gilda recited with her first spoken words the first day of every month. She’d been afraid of the monsters in her room as a kid. Her dad told her that if she just recited, “Bunny Bunny” that she would not be in danger. It worked.
She loved the underdog. She loved Zweibel. Zweibel loved her. She called him Zweibel. He called her Gilbert.
What if you just forgot some of the most important things in your life. Like just forgot to do them. What about that? Huh?
Zweibel’s heart rending script takes on the feeling of sketch comedy. He was, after all, a stand out writer for SNL and jokes (rim shot) were his stock in trade. Gilda was his best friend. When she died… and the beauty of his play is that we know where this is going, and yet we hop on board and share their brilliant, stormy relationship for a totally engaging two acts to the very end... he started writing every single thing he could remember about her. About them. Yes, to the end, we are involved, in love and terribly sad to see her go. Adam Flemming’s fantastic set design includes a huge drape with text covering the stage floor; hanging banners receiving projected locations flowing along, accentuating the fast paced dialogue. No pretense here. Bunny Bunny shamelessly smashes the fourth wall and we find ourselves … again… in love again… with the kooky brunette who flummoxed Jane Curtain as Emily Latella, lovingly spoofed Baba Wawa and rocked all of us little Rosanna Dannas.
Lithe Erin Pineda never imitates Gilda. She is bright and funny and natural. At times she seems to actually channel the vulnerable SNL star to a T: one time by simply sitting up stage with her back to the audience. It’s a remarkable and endearing performance. We know what’s coming… that the end is coming and yet we embrace the touching silly moments that made this young woman special. She liked charwomen!
As Zweibel, Brendan Hunt never really makes an effort to do anything. His quick and funny one liners, his warm memories roll out naturally, right along with silly fights and overwhelming emotions. The play is a love letter to his dear friend, Gilbert.
Director Dimitri Toscas releases his actors simply into each new scene with fresh memories, enhanced by the very talented supernumerary, Tom Fonss, portraying a whole slew of entertaining characters including Alan’s bride (with canoe paddle). He practically stops the show as Gene Wilder with one line.
This presentation at The Falcon is not to be missed.
Bunny Bunny Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy
Written by Alan Zweibel
Directed by Dimitri Toscas.
4252 W Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Tickets and information: (818) 955-8101
Jan 29 - Mar 2, 2014