Theater review by Helen Shaw
When you walk into Say Something Bunny!, you enter another time. You might not notice that at first, because the brick office space where it takes place is so determinedly ordinary-looking. The small audience sits around a doughnut-shaped conference table, and as Alison S.M. Kobayashi begins her multimedia docuplay, some spectators are already paging through the scripts that have been placed in front of each chair. The text turns out to be the full transcript of a real, unlabeled 65-year-old recording that Kobayashi found hidden in an antique wire recorder: the audio relic of a teenage boy in Woodmere, Queens, enthusiastically taping two dozen family members and neighbors.
Kobayashi has listened to the recording hundreds of times and has a seemingly boundless interest in the people whose voices it preserves, including amateur recordist David, mother Juliette and neighbor Bunny. She conducts us through a pair of after-dinner conversations, the first in 1952—she deduced the date from song lyrics mentioned on the wire—and the second in 1954. Aided by coauthor Christopher Allen, she pursues hints and half-heard jokes to determine who these people were and what befell them; she shows us the census records she used to find their old houses.
The play unspools unhurriedly, leaving space for Kobayashi to make jokes, play short films and highlight points of historical interest. It takes a while for it to sink in that—of course—many of these vibrant people must be long dead. The experience of Say Something Bunny! is light, sweet, funny and dear. But Kobayashi’s deep humanism has a way of moving you, even days later. She sifts through the details of strangers’ lives, a prospector who knows that the sand itself is precious.
UNDO Project Space (Off-Off Broadway). By Alison S.M. Kobayashi and Christopher Allen. Directed by Kobayashi. With Kobayashi. Running time: 2hrs 20mins. One intermission. Through July 30.
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Average User Rating
5 / 5
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I've recommended Say Something Bunny to so many friends and would go see it again. A.S.M. Kobayashi brings these characters to life and captivates the audience with the clever unfolding of this family's story. A fun, exciting and truly unique performance that speaks to relationships, legacy and so much more as you learn about her process uncovering this tale. Go see Bunny!
A gorgeous piece that melds the best performance art with elements of journalism and documentary. I've never seen anything like it before. Funny and profound.
Alison Kobayashi has created a fascinating take on documentary theater, drawing on deep research to investigate the story behind a piece of found audio. The end result is something that defies easily description, but is deeply infused with Kobayashi's deep wit and alternates between comedy, profundity and the unknown. Highly recommend.
Getting back from NYC run of Say Something Bunny. Hot damn. Only 20ish seats per performance. But OMG, a wholly seminal performative-doc experience, finding new territory: 10/10
Alison Kobayashi, in collaboration with Union Docs, has created one of the most engaging and original performance pieces I've seen in a long, long time.
Alison Kobayashi has created a modern marvel and truly recaptured the archive. While watching this piece I was astounded by the research, the dedication and the instant familiarity with this family. To create such a visceral and engaging experience from little to no material is astounding. "Say Something Bunny" allows its audience to ponder the archive, our mark in this world and what will be left of us.
"Say Something Bunny" is the single performance you do not want to miss this season. Vigorously beautiful in its study of time, place, and family, the show unwinds deftly through various mediums and modes of storytelling, surprising, delighting, revealing, and provoking in turns. ASM Kobayashi and Christopher Allen create a generous—frankly, loving—and totally gorgeous homage to people. The artwork is as fluid as it is complex, and the audience is seamlessly immersed in history, re-enactment, film, song, dance, drama, documentary, comedy, and exhibition at once. It's a work of dazzling imagination, and comes most highly recommended.
Last weekend I got to see Asm Kobayashi and Christopher Allen documentary performance "Say Something Bunny" in Chelsea. They created something absolutely mind-blowing! This intricate retelling of family gatherings, played out like a captivating mystery to me. Filled with eccentric characters and hilarious reenactments, it had me constantly wondering, 'What will Alison do next?' Recommending from the bottom of my heart!
A living work of incredible research and depth that transcends either documentary or performance art. Unmissable.
Participating in the production makes the characters come alive. Their stories stay with you long after you leave the theatrical space.
"Say Something Bunny"was an intimate theater experience unlike anything I have ever seen. I was captivated by this production. Storytelling at its very best! A truly new art form using audio that is reminiscent of times gone by paired with interesting vignettes, a script, technological cues that provides perfect clarity, and video that informs and intrigues. All working in tangent with ASM Kobayashi's mesmerizing acting and narrative that connects the audience and makes for a completely fun and engaging evening!
Perfect! This is the best thing I've ever seen. A smart, funny, beautiful, and inventive work of art that you'll be thinking about for a long time. Magic.