Review: THE RABBIT QUEEN at The Broadwater MainStage

Now Playing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival until June 29, 2024

By: Jun. 10, 2024
Review: THE RABBIT QUEEN at The Broadwater MainStage
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To say THE RABBIT QUEEN, produced by Color and Light Theatre Ensemble is predictable would be accurate…sort of.  The plot line and structure are pretty standard fare for a musical theater presentation.  All the elements in it piece together like a store bought puzzle.  And it narratively flows from beginning to end, although, not “happily ever after”…sort of.

The story is filled with archetypes from the peasant ensemble cast to the abominably second-rate doctor who tries to displace the village midwife, through razzamatazz and Patriarchy.  (Not to mention he can afford to pay the landlord more rent for the birthing center.) Of course there’s a Prince, whose outlandish pomp and cranky narcism is only rivaled by his foppish courtiers. There’s a sidekick sister ready to make a stand, a melancholy housewife dying for attention, a husband on a quest for spiritual enlightenment, a lot of shoveling shit, and...FaceBoard…where everyone finds out about everything going on in town.

Did I mention that this all takes place in 1726? No? Well, if it weren’t for the popinjays, you would initially think this is a medieval morality play.  But upon entrance, their costume and “colour” in this dishy little musical unmistakably evokes images of Regency era, King George III, before the American revolution and etc.  So, eventually, you hook in to the time period.

And then there’s the story itself.  A piece of history, actually.

In 1726, the world was hoodwinked by a poor, illiterate woman named Mary Toft who managed to fool the finest doctors, scientists, and nobles into believing she could give birth to rabbits.  Mary performed this extraordinary spectacle 17 times over.  As a result she became known as “The Rabbit Queen”. Until she got caught.

This production bundles Mary’s “viral” hoax and subsequent “cancellation” with themes of bodily autonomy, women’s reproductive freedom, gender and class roles, and the dangers of blindly trusting authority figures in the media.  And actually, they accomplish much of this - extremely well, but at the same time, disastrously.

I didn’t mind the canned music.  In fact, the musical composition was quite good.  Although, the lyrics were particularly pedantic. At times, like, a bunch of tweens got in a room together and decided to create a musical parody of their favorite geek moments.  The choreography, costumes, staging and basic lighting work very well.  And the cast was great. Everyone’s timing, delivery and comedy is impeccable. But I could barely hear the singing so often that I think I might have missed some of the important stuff. The production decided not to mic the performers and unfortunately, many voices, including lead, Bettina Bresnan’s, are completely lost under the music.   Bresnan, otherwise, has an exceptionally lovely voice, when you can hear it.

Also, for me, it was kinda gross just thinking about Mary stuffing all those bunny parts into her vajajay.  But, cool, it’s what she did. No judgement.  But to call that a reproductive victory…hmmm…that may be a bit of a stretch.  And the whole production feels morality underscored, especially Mary getting too big for her friends and family then getting “taken down”. It’s all a bit "Icarus".  Lot’s of characters with delusions of grandeur and then falling when they get too close their dream (sun).

In all, though, THE RABBIT QUEEN is a fast-moving piece that is irreverently fun.

THE RABBIT QUEEN Book is by Ilana Gordon; Music & Lyrics (composer/co-lyricist) by Laura Watkins and Lyrics (co-lyricist) by Jaime Lyn Beatty.  Elise Dewberry is the developmental producer.  Director/choreographer/producer is Joanna Syiek.

Starring: Bettina Bresnan, Sid Gonzales, Amy Anderson, Richardson Cisneros-Jones, Jack Little, Sawyer Maier, Eliana Nunley, Oliver Rotunno, Josh Dillinger, Kaylee Jaye, Ramona Yates, Yu Tsutsumi, Tatiana Gomez, Jeff T. Buco, Caleb Mills Stewart and Tianna Cohen.

Currently playing at The Broadwater Main Stage, 1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA. for four more Hollywood Fringe Festival performances (until Saturday, June 29, 2024)

PHOTO L TO R: Jeff T. Buco, Olive Rotunno, Jack Little, Richardson Cisneros-Jones, Steven Gonzalez, Caleb Mills Stewart




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