Author Archive for: ‘SteveMurray’

IM5

Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit

Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit. Written by Daniel Handler. Directed by Tony Taccone. Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA.

Novelist Daniel Handler, the literary genius behind the Lemony Snicket children’s books, shines his absurdist eye on the foibles of a grieving family and acquaintances in the World Premiere of Imaginary Comforts now gracing Berkeley Rep. Based on his own father’s death, Handler, who is no stranger to writing about terrible things happening to people, tries to find solace in these troubled times through the concept of storytelling. Here, the stories center on a rabbit; for one character, the calming image of a father’s love, for another, a dark and sinister foreboding of calamity.

Danny Scheie (Ghost) and Michael Goorjian (Clovis). Photo by Kevin Berne.

The cast of characters, each of whom will become interconnected in some manner throughout the proceedings are a quirky bunch to say the least. The Gold family is mourning the loss of the father Marcus (Julian Lopez-Morillas), a noted doctor and psychotherapist. Daughter Sarah (Susan Lynskey), her new husband Michael (Cassidy Brown) and inconsolable mother (Sharon Lockwood) must prepare for the funeral using the inept rabbi Naomi (Marilee Talkington). Friend of the family Jack (Jarion Monroe) is Dr. Gold’s bookkeeper, longtime tenant and good friend. Clovis (Michael Goorjian), a recovering addict and patient of Julian’s brings his fantastical play about the Ghost of a Dead Rabbit (Danny Scheie) to life and the lines between reality and fantasy merge.

Juian Lopez-Morillas (Dr. Marcus Gold) and Sharon Lockwood (his wife). Photo by Kevin Berne.

Handler does a great job of moving between the action between the interweaving plotlines, aided greatly by the beautiful revolving set design of Todd Rosenthal and bright neon lighting by Nick Solyom. We first meet Clovis when he’s directing his presentation of his rabbit story starring the Ghost (Danny Scheie). Clovis then meets Naomi on an online date. He mistakenly asks for a rabbit, not a rabbi and this confusion leads to a lot of smart humor. Sarah tells the touching story her father would tell her of a barren family who desperately wanted a child. They seek the assistance of a fertile rabbit who gives them a baby pup who magically becomes a little girl.  This is the solace portion of the story; a beautiful memory that helps Sarah work through her grief.

The rabbi (Marilee Talkington) confuses Sarah (Susan Lynskey). Photo by Kevin Berne.

On the flip side of solace is the neurotic, low self-esteem rabbi who can’t seem to do anything right. She ruins the funeral with her take on a rabbit story that doesn’t end all too well for the rabbit. All the characters eventually interact with one another in touching and comic ways. The acting is top-notch with an excellent ensemble troupe that breathes life and reality into Handler’s other-worldly script. Director Tony Taccone brings the play into vivid detail with the neon bordered sets and heightened sense of absurdism blended with all too real drama.

Performances run thru November 19, 2017  www.berkeleyrep.org  510.647.2949