Sunday, July 22, 2007


Delightful black comedy/mystery at Fourth Wall Productions

On the way out of Kalliope Theatre, where Fourth Wall Productions is staging their newest offering, ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY,’ I said to the script’s author, Matthew Sprosty, “You have a twisted mind! A brilliant, but twisted mind!” He responded with an innocent grin which split his cherubic blushing face.

Fourth Wall Productions is just completing its first year of activity. Made up mainly of Ohio University theatre graduates, the company, who are mainly from the Cleveland area, thought that there was a need on the North Coast for a company which performed new works by new writers. They are mainly looking at scripts from OU’s Playwriting Program. If ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’ is any example of the quality of the scripts and production values that we will be seeing in the future, Fourth Wall is a welcome addition to the Cleveland scene.

Sprosty has a wonderful way of leading his audience down one path, doing a quick detour, allowing the viewers to find themselves guessing at what will happen next. In ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’ he has given us a black comedy/mystery that is cleverly conceived.

The author contends that the play is not autobiographical, but did germinate from experiences with his last girl friend and her parents. He emphatically insists, and states in the program that it was his LAST girl friend, not this one. (Okay, Matthew, now that it’s officially in public print, hopefully this saves you from your present main squeeze’s parents not dragging her out of the theatre and forbidding her from seeing you when they attend next Saturday’s performance.)

The plot? A couple of twenty-four year olds have hit the one-and-a-half year point in their marriage. She (Angela) is an artist, who is on a sabbatical from creating. He is an engineering graduate who is working as a janitor because she wants to live in Cleveland, near her parents, and he can’t find a job in his field on the north coast. She is bored and manipulates her somewhat naive husband (Jonathon) to do her beckoning. She may be named Angela, but she is no angel! Her list? Kill her parents, get a million dollars, and buy the penthouse condo in their building. To go any further with the plot would blow the whole premise. It’s enough to say there are enough twists and turns to make the surprise ending a head shaker and allow you to leave with a smile on your face!

Director Rebecca Cole has paced the play well. She is aided by a cast that understands the plot and their characters. (Having the playwright on-hand to work with during the production and explain his concepts obviously turned out to be a great aid in the staging process.)

Nate Bigger, a blond with the look of total innocence and a voice to match, is wonderful as Jonathon. He gets totally wrapped in the role and takes us right along. Though Stephanie Ford’s Angela could have sounded a little more vocally manipulative, she is quite believable as the spoiled little rich girl who gets everything she wants (or, so it seems). Dash Combs is both properly delightful and menacing as Jonathon’s buddy, Greg. Steven Hoffman and Kat Gallagher do well as Angela’s parents, but are much better as the detectives. (Hmm....and why are there detectives? I’m not going to tell!)

Capsule judgement: It’s been a while since I’ve had such a good time at a theatre production. The twists, turns and “oh my goodness moments” in ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’ keep the audience laughing and thinking of what’s going to happen next. Bravo!