“You do the most wildly inappropriate things when you think the world is about to end” is the excuse Alice (Michelle Woods) and long term boyfriend Bobby (Josiah DeAndrea) use for how they ended up at The Bunny Hole waiting to meet Jerome and Kelly: prospective up-for-anything sex partners for the evening. And so begins Alice & The Bunny Hole - a modern, grown up, sexed up take on the Lewis Carroll story we’re all so familiar with. Playwright Alex DeFazio borrows a lot from Carroll, but he also plays fast and loose with many of the tamer standbys, ratcheting them up as high as he dares.
“We were drunk when we answered that online ad!” they keep protesting when, much to Bobby’s dismay, the ‘Kelly’ of the pair turns out to be male. Jerome is pan-sexual (not bisexual — never that!) and has no qualms about bedding the freaked out straight and narrow couple, something Kelly is a little less into, but if opportunity comes a-knockin’ at your particular bunny hole, never pass up the chance to chase after it, kiddies. Jerome (Dan Johnson) and Kelly (Patrick Martin) gleefully poke at the skittish pair until all their evil prodding and jabbing prompts prim Alice to bark “My shame has just as much right to speak as your shamelessness”.
Of course it does.
At The Bunny Hole the music is loud, the drinks light up, the sex is plentiful, casual, mix-and-matchable, and not always memorable. The kids who play there are shocking, but parenthetically, or in quotes, as if they’re boring even themselves with their own shocking-just-to-shock behavior. Despite the fact that the familiar “we’re all quite mad here” line is quoted, it’s uttered as less of an anthem and more of a jaded yawn.
Speaking of mad, yes … the entire gang’s all here: the mad hatter (known to this bunch as The Man With The Tiny Hat and played by co-director Jody R. Person) wears a selection of itty bitty party hats and hangs around the club despite the fact that he seems decades older than his c0horts: a grown up, less nefarious Michale Alig who speaks with a Shakespearean flair because he thinks those words sound beautiful. Which, of course, they do, Man with Tiny Hat.
Interwoven into this club scene with its go-go boys and them that lurves them is the rather-drab-in-comparison daily life of Alice. By day she works for a dating site creating mathematical algorithms to help couples find their perfect match. Apparently she doesn’t avail herself of their services when confronted with the almost non-existent sex life she has with her otherwise pretty hot boyfriend, opting to stay where she is out of comfort for the moment and voyeuristically pop on over to Bunny’s using three weak excuses ( 1. oops, I think I have your mail. 2. can you help me create an [ooooh! naughty!] sex questionnaire for my dating site? 3. Does the go-go boy you call your son need a math tutor?) She peppers her speech with Wonderland phrases such as “I feel so small” and “am I disappearing?” She also eats whatever’s put in front of her, drinks whatever’s put in front of her, and suffers the consequences. Oh, Alice.
Sliced and diced right into this metaphoric place is the actual tea party scene from Wonderland, almost word for word (No room! No room! `There’s PLENTY of room!’ / `Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’ / `You should say what you mean,’ `I do, at least–at least I mean what I say–that’s the same thing, you know.’) which, after all the metaphor was almost a little too much of an homage.
But then there was Bunny. Played by Deena Jiles, Bunny rose from the clamor and noise and distraction of this play like Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Not only did Jiles have complete control of the character but she commanded each scene and put forth a power and strength that gave a deeper resonance to the play overall. At first brusk and caustic, she slowly becomes not just a guide to Alice through an internal journey, but she embodies the woman who mothers wayward souls and is the epitome of what it means to rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.
A voice of reason in the midst of cacophony! Curiouser and curiouser!
So, while Alice & The Bunny Hole didn’t exactly show me something new, or challenge me, or shock me as I was hoping, it did serve up a strong female character who lives life by her own rules, isn’t afraid to create her own mad world, and doesn’t turn away anyone who is on a journey of discovery. Not bad for a Bunny.
Alice & The Bunny Hole
Elixir Productions Theatre Company
Writer: Alex DeFazio
Director: Jody P. Person & Alex DeFazio
What’s inside The Bunny Hole? Swinging twinks. Height-altering cocktails. Clues to mathematical mysteries of online matchmaking. Alice thought she’d calculated the perfect life – until she discovers a wonderland of fools, gogo boys, and one Black Bunny that scrambles her formulas.
2h 0m Local Jersey City, New Jersey
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VENUE #08: The First Floor Theatre @ LA MAMA
Mon 13 @ 8 Thu 16 @ 4:15 Fri 17 @ 4 Sat 18 @ 9 Fri 24 @ 4:15