RabbitSQ1

Where All Good Rabbits Go

Where All Good Rabbits Go. Dramedy. Written by Karina Cochran. Directed by Cole Ferraiuolo. FaultLine Theatre @  PianoFight, 144 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

FaultLine Theatre, which prides itself on producing works by emerging artists, is presenting the ‘official world premiere’ of Karina Cochran’s Where All Good Rabbits Go, an allegory on illness, grief and personal loss. Once again, Co-Artistic Director Cole Ferraiuolo and his astute technical crew have another hit on their hands.

Written in ‘magical realism’, the fable follows the bittersweet story of young couple Walt and Julia who are confronted with a life changing event when Walt begins his transformation into a rabbit. This happens in the ‘Age of the Rabbit’, where no one dies. Instead they transform into rabbits and go to the Scared Green Space, leaving their loved ones to deal with the anguish and loss.

Walter (Ed Berkeley) and Julia (Charlie D. Gray). Photo by Katie Johnson.

Walter (Ed Berkeley) and Julia (Charlie D. Gray). Photo by Katie Johnson.

This transformation is presented as quite normal, and dealt with comically. Walter’s first physical symptom is a large bushy tail, then body fur. When the couple go see Julia’s doctor brother Dorn, his questions include: any hopping?  The doctor warns of future symptoms: shedding, high energy libido and redigestion (eating your own feces), shocking to Julia, but playfully worked into the play’s subsequent action.  Walter, who coincidentally is a carrot farmer, remembers eating a bunch of carrots when young, and enjoying it. The absurdist levity is required in this piece to offset the real dramatic meat of the piece – how we humans experience loss and accommodate and adjust to it.

Ed Berkeley as Walter and Charlie D. Gray as Julia are wonderful as the struggling couple attempting to come to grips with the inevitable. There’s deep tenderness in the flashback scenes of their romance, as well as sadness over their impending separation. Derek Jones plays Dr. Dorn, caught between his love for his sister and the difficult task of being the objective doctor trying to save his patient. His awkwardness is displayed beautifully when he brings the couple a casserole, “the common gesture for empathy”.

Derek Jones (Dorn) and Ed Berkeley as Walter. Photo by Katie Johnson.

Derek Jones (Dorn) and Ed Berkeley as Walter. Photo by Katie Johnson.

Between scenes, four characters (Ashley Gennarelli, Alex Randall, Madelene Tetsch and Alejandro Torres) dance through the set – three people and one rabbit. They mimic typical life events; riding a bus, looking at a cell phone, getting sleepy. One by one, the three metamorphose into rabbits, the path we will all eventually take. When Walter is almost completely rabbit, he joins this ensemble in a touching joining of souls. Indie rock composer Evan Wardell provides a moving score throughout. His song “Last Moment” opens with: “Now here is the last moment in time, You knew you’d never keep it forever, But still you’re not ready to leave it behind”, an apt commentary on the couple’s last few moments together.

Enough can’t be said about FaultLine’s technical crew. Given the tight space limitations, they work wonders with what they have. Scenic Designer Max Chanowitz creates fully realized interiors that seem familiar and cozy. They are amazingly enhanced by the lighting design of Maxx Kurzunski, who uses both bright and soft primary color schemes to elicit moods and emotions. There’s a scene where Walter, standing in the kitchen, is all blue, while Julia, sitting on their bed, is bathed in light coral pinks. Kurzunski’s color transitions are a thing of beauty. Choreography is by Nikki Meñez.

The ensemble of transforming rabbits (Ashley Gennarelli, Alex Randall, Madelene Tetsch and Alejandro Torres. Photo by Katie Johnson.

The ensemble of transforming rabbits (Ashley Gennarelli, Alex Randall, Madelene Tetsch and Alejandro Torres. Photo by Katie Johnson.

Cochran’s writing is full of vivid imagery and almost poetic cadences. We accept rabbit transformations as a normal occurrence, after all, Walter’s father turned as well, so there’s a scientific genetic inevitability at play here. I find it somewhat comforting to believe that people don’t just die, but can become cute little bunnies. When Julia lovingly pets Mr. Bun Bun, a real rabbit that replaces Walter, the imagery and sorrow is palpable yet not heartbreakingly tragic. Where All Good Rabbits Go is a charming, deep and even rewarding exploration into a subject we all think about at one time or another.

Performances run through March 5th, 2017   www.faultlinetheater.com