Any high expectations for The Easter Bunny are instantly changed upon reading the program. Not the cover, where it warns of descriptions of violence and sexual assault, and that it is one of the few Toronto Fringe Festival 2018 shows that isn’t a comedy. No, inside the program are three paragraphs from theatre company Marble Theatre Group, where they explain that The Easter Bunny is not the show they intended to mount. Another show was too expensive, then there were issues with casting and what sounds like last-minute re-writes, and now, they have this monologue for us instead. Apologizing for your show before the audience has even seen it does not inspire confidence.
The Easter Bunny is a short (just over half an hour) monologue from a serial rapist and murderer as he waits for his next victim to come home. The show promises not to depict any assault, nor graphically describe it, both in the program and in an address to the audience during his opening remarks.
The performer, who is not named on either Fringe or Marble Theatre Group’s website, takes long pauses between statements as he wanders the stage, playing with assorted props like a bandana, a knife, and a pillowcase torn into strips. At times it’s unclear if this is a stylistic choice — the killer, maybe not mentally competent, letting his mind wander — or just an actor forgetting his lines. Either way, the pauses often went on too long and left the audience unsure.
The rapist goes by the name The Easter Bunny, for unknown reasons. There’s a reference to hiding eggs at the crime scene with no further explanation, and a story about the psychology behind how you eat a chocolate Easter bunny (the ears first, you’re self-centered, face first, you have issues, tail first, you’re a ‘latent homosexual) but we’re told that’s not the reason behind the name.
We learn very little about what actually drives the Easter Bunny himself. He doesn’t say how he chose this victim that he’s waiting for, or what drove him to this life in the first place. He hints at a childhood trauma, saying maybe he could blame his mother, as most do, or the fact that he was born male, but nothing really adds up. The best explanation we get is that some rapists are driven by control, but he says he is driven by rage. Considering the Easter Bunny’s m.o. is patient and methodical, I would have pegged him as a ‘needs control’ type.
The Easter Bunny instead explains why other men rape, quoting statistics and studies, or telling a story of a man pressuring a female friend into one more drink, one more dance, one ride home.
He also name drops other serial rapists — The Hillside Stranglers, The Toolbox Killer, The Original Night Stalker (also known as the Golden State Killer, who’s m.o. The Easter Bunny seems to be borrowing), but only gets angry when describing the man who pressured a woman into letting him drive her home.
It’s an interesting choice to have a serial rapist more interested in rape culture as a whole than in his own actions. While the play stays true to its promise of not describing sexual assault, we not only never learn why the Easter Bunny does what he does, but also why he’s so disgusted with other men that do the same. It’s also odd to have him casually mention how he murders his victims, but then also go on to quote academic journals about the male psyche in a disgusted way, like he’s judging rape just as much as the rest of us.
The Easter Bunny feels like a missed opportunity. A rapist discussing what drives him to commit this particular crime would be an interesting insight into the topic and there are studies, some mentioned in the play, where this has been done. Instead, we get a combination of ideas and opinions, none of which feel fully formed.
- The Easter Bunny plays at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Unsuitable for minors; Mature language; Realistic violence or gore.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Friday July 6th, 7:00 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 11:00 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 4:30 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 12:45 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 9:45 pm
- Friday July 13th, 2:15 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 5:45 pm
Photo of Easter Bunny provided by the company