Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Also see Richard's review of Ain't Misbehavin'
The plot is a bit confusing. It goes back in time, when recently deceased patriarch Dr. Gold (Julian López-Morillas) used to tell a favorite story to his daughter Sarah (Susan Lynskey) about a rabbit and a changeling and a curse, with an outlandish ending that the various characters construe in different ways which roll non-linearly.
The action takes place at Dr. Gold's funeral where hopeless, hung-up rent-a-rabbi Naomi (Marilee Talkington), in first her gig, alienates everyone in the room. She can't comfort the grieving family and can't deliver a eulogy. This goes back in time to a cafe where she meets one of Dr. Gold's alcoholic patients, Clovis (Michael Goorjian), on an internet date (he thought she was a rabbit), and in the office of a cheap bookkeeper, Jack (Jarion Monroe), who was Dr. Gold's friend.
There are a lot of Jewish jokes in the script and non-chronological elements that I admit I found confusing and frustrating. The dialogue between characters is sparkling and the themes are serious. How do you overcome dependence? The 90 minutes is quite short, but the parable manages to feel long and nudging. It seems a bit underwritten, lacking the impact it should have.
Susan Lynskey and Marilee Talkington give excellent performances, while Cassidy Brown gives a good portrayal of Michael (he is in three short scenes, and I would have liked to have seen him more). Michael Goorjian gives an intriguing performance as Clovis. Danny Scheie is outstanding as an untrustworthy rabbit. He is a combination of intuitive dynamism and enigmatic impetus. Julian López-Morillas, Jarion Monroe and Sharon Lockwood have little to do in this production, unfortunately. Tony Taccone's direction is candid and unobtrusive.
Imaginary Comforts is realistic but silly, nonlinear to a fault, farcical but solemn.
Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in the Peet's Theatre, 2015 Addison St, Berkeley CA through November 19, 2017. For tickets and information call 510-647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.com. Coming up next is Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, a co-production with the Guthrie Theater starting November 30.