BUNNICULA by Jon Klein (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People). Runs through December 18. See Continuing. Rating: NNN
Ever wonder about your pet's fantasy life - the source of nap-time doggy moans or those feline fixations as a cat stares into space?
You'll find some of the answers in Chester and Harold, the Monroe family's cat and dog, in Jon Klein 's Bunnicula , based on the children's book by Deborah Howe and James Howe . When their humans bring home a rabbit the family found at a Dracula movie, the established pets worry that their new housemate, dubbed Bunnicula, has a propensity for draining vital fluids. How else to explain those white zucchini and tomatoes?
Klein's show is a lively romp for kids, and it's given a full-blooded, fast-paced production by director Allen MacInnis and his production team, especially set designer Nigel Scott , whose house - seen from the animals' point of view, with oversize furniture - manages to be both everyday and sinister, and costume designer Phillip Clarkson , who's gone for bright colours and shied away from animal costumes.
But viewers of any age won't need visual markers for Chester and Harold, superbly brought to life by Corrine Koslo and Richard Binsley .
Binsley's fun-loving, not-always-bright Harold revels in food, old shoes and affection, while Koslo's Chester begins with a furball cough and never lets up on the cat traits, from chesterfield clawing to the frequent flicking of a scarf that doubles as tail.
They're inventive every minute they're onstage.
The family's also drawn in cartoonlike terms, with Deann de Gruijter a standout as the mother, a lawyer dolled up in baby pink and blue.
And then there's Bunnicula (puppeteer Mike Petersen ) in its several incarnations, including a red-eyed, green-fanged bat. The kids in the audience love the vampire rabbit, squealing with delight whenever it appears.
There's a message here about friendship and getting along, but it's buried in the fun performances and a story that doesn't quite resolve at the end.
Also, the several tunes are extraneous to the narrative, with lyrics sometimes over the heads of younger viewers.
Koslo and Binsley sell them well, but it'd be more entertaining just to watch the pair riff as their animal characters.