Members say: Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious, Refreshing, Intelligent

About the show

UnionDocs presents Alison S.M. Kobayashi's multi-media solo piece inspired by an amateur audio recording made over 60 years ago.

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The origin of this audio was a mystery. Two spools of thin steel wire were found tucked inside an obsolete sound device purchased by a collector at an estate sale. There were no labels; no dates, no names, and no context. Through her obsessive research and active imagination, Kobayashi decodes the rich dialogue in the recording and discovers the detailed history of a Jewish family from New York that bursts with humor, surprise, and drama. The one-woman show annotates, illustrates, and reconstructs the scenes of the recording, while revealing the stranger-than-fiction biography of the eldest son, David, who made the wire recordings. Using video, installation, performance and plentiful archival material, Kobayashi leads the audience through a close listening of this multigenerational tale.


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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

85
Theatermania

"The personalization of the experience caused the line between performer and spectator to blur to such an extreme degree that I almost forgot where I was. I've never experienced a feeling quite like that before, and it's all thanks to Kobayashi's gentle demeanor and dedication to finding the truth...While you might not have seen theater like this before, once you start listening, you can't get enough of the story that unfolds." Full Review

85
Time Out New York

“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.” Full Review

90
The New York Times

“A suburban family invites the neighbors to dinner...It sounds punishingly ordinary. It is. It is also an out-and-out thrill...Ms. Kobayashi’s tender obsession is as catching as the chickenpox, and if the piece is forthrightly funny and briefly pornographic, it is also sneakily moving...'Say Something Bunny!' is about more than the particulars. It’s a low-key ontological thriller about how we live and what we leave and how we account for ourselves when some kid comes at us with a microphone.” Full Review

90
Lighting & Sound America

"One of the oddest and most captivating entertainments of the new season...Kobayashi's warm, sympathetic presence draws the audience in...Working together, she and her team have conjured -- almost out of thin air -- a one-of-a-kind performance piece that speaks volumes about families, changing times, and middle-class life in America in its post-World War II heyday." Full Review

85
Exeunt Magazine

"Kobayashi marshals an ethnographer’s appreciation for cultural and historical context, a genealogist’s relish for placing relations on a family tree, a private investigator’s instincts to follow any lead and connect all the dots, and a storyteller’s flair for filling in the empty spaces. But it also says something about her capacity for empathy. This isn’t just a project to her; it’s a family’s lives she is holding in her hands." Full Review

90
Show Showdown

“I was particularly taken by ‘Say Something Bunny!’…Not only visually appealing, but it's also gentle, smart, and warm. It simultaneously paints a vivid portrait of a family and brilliantly reflects the artist's obsession with—even love for—said family, which she has partly and painstakingly documented, and partly invented…It is an impressive, extraordinarily well-researched and executed piece, that manages as well to be deeply touching and quite funny…An amazing accomplishment.” Full Review

90
The Culture Trip

"The everyday becomes enthralling in 'Say Something Bunny!,' a surprising new show that discovers compelling mysteries where the most intrepid sleuths wouldn’t expect to find them...A highly entertaining performance that takes the audience on her journey. It provides the thrill of storytelling with all the excitement of a mystery...The audience slowly feels the emotional force of Kobayashi’s work and inevitably begins to care about the Newburges." Full Review

95
Interludes

"The piece is pure genius, unfurling with the the utmost grace, wit, and intelligence (I loved the show’s endless parade of visual and audio gags!). Indeed, the performance I attended exuded whimsical good humor and was a joy to partake in. Technically and aesthetically, the show is a marvel. The amount of detail that went into creating this out-of-the-box experience is nothing short of astonishing...I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it." Full Review

90
Yes Broadway

“Captivating...It feels more like an experience than a performance. It is unique and very, very, very cool!...Projected videos and personal phone-sized digital screens enhance Alison's performance perfectly...'Say Something Bunny!' is funny and delightful. This is thanks, in part, to Alison's earnest and incredibly charming performance. This is the future of art. The kind of really-well-done avant garde theater that gets the attention of the nominating committees.” Full Review

85
The Huffington Post

"'Say Something Bunny!' sits comfortably at the juncture of historical research, fiction, documentary, and performance art...Kobayashi’s success turns on both her extensive, iterative approach to her research as well as her charismatic ability to commit herself completely to reenactments of dozens of characters from the audio...Her performance infuses new life into what otherwise might be an easily overlooked piece of personal ephemera that gets thrown out in the trash." Full Review

90
No Proscenium

"The captivating Kobayashi happens also to be a time traveler and shapeshifter, who literally plays the part of every person who touches the Newburge family’s narrative, however briefly...The experience is surreal and feels completely original...These typical, ordinary lives of the Newburge family feel extraordinarily real. Because it’s 1952 again and we are all piled inside in a cozy little house in Windmere, a place brightly lit and filled with love and warmth and music and cake." Full Review

85
Now Toronto

for a previous production “‘Say Something Bunny!’ digs deep into the early 1950s through recordings of a Jewish family from Long Island that a friend unearthed at a New York City estate sale…The project is a work of profound empathy, lending meaning and drama to ordinary lives and inviting us to join the artist in inhabiting people from another time and culture.” Full Review

85
Art F City

for a previous production “A multigenerational yarn of Rothian heights…Throughout the installation, Kobayashi renders the facts that define the lives of these idiosyncratic cast of characters, who are deeply felt and most remarkably, close and real...Even without the content, the presentation alone would be compelling...She herself describes the project as being informed by 'amateur historical research.' But with those imperfections she brings humanity and life to her subjects." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

90
Enchanting, Quirky, Entertaining, Performance art, Completely original

See it if You are interested in a completely different intimate immersive theatre-like experience. No active participation required.

Don't see it if You do not have an open mind and are interested in only traditional theatre.

Also This production is completely original and unique. It is best to appro... Read more Read less

84
Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if you're willing to be patient; the impact of SSB! builds slowly; it made me think about family and personal history in a whole new way

Don't see it if you're unwilling to play along, try something new; this is not a play, it's more of a detective-documentary-workshop-thoughtstarter

92
Original, Ambitious, Enchanting, Riveting, Intimate

See it if you're up for something completely different; you enjoy sleuthing; you like mysteries; you enjoy multimedia pieces.

Don't see it if you like traditional fare; you want to be in a real theater; the idea of reading along for the entire evening does not appeal to you.

Also This was so different, and delightful. Intimate, with a very small aud... Read more Read less

92
Absorbing, Intelligent, Must see, Profound, Relevant

See it if you want to see an original and unique performance.

Don't see it if you don't like to read.

Also I think this is the future of storytelling. A play this days cannot be... Read more Read less

92
Absorbing, Refreshing, Unusual, Intimate, Almost indescribable

See it if you like unique and original theatrical experiences. You enjoy learning about ordinary people's lives.

Don't see it if you prefer more traditional theater. You don't like intimate and immersive experiences (although there is no audience participation).

Also It's really hard to describe this show. It's more than theater. I felt... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing, Clever, Dizzying, Riveting, Immersive

See it if you’re a fan of verité documentaries or experimental theatre, or love the idea that everyone has a story to tell. This will stay with me.

Don't see it if you can’t do experimental works or can’t read well (there’s a lot of reading involved).

90
Delightful, Profound, Refreshing, Personal, Intimate

See it if you like Americana, history, & storytelling. An intimate setting of 20 people being told a fascinating, personal story of an unknown family.

Don't see it if you like toe-tapping spectacle or big idea plays. This is a brief glimpse of a moment in time thru the lens of the woman who discovered it.

Also Our narrator is like the perfect cocktail party host, smiling, genuine... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining, Unique

See it if multi-media story about people whose voices are on 1950's wire recordings, how their identities became known, their touching stories

Don't see it if uncomfortable with 4th wall broken - don't want multi-disciplinary performance art, want to sit in a standard theater and not around a table

Also If you are uncomfortable with 4th wall broken know that there is no aw... Read more Read less

90
Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you can enjoy the minutia of lives lived and wonder at the actors ability to research in a way that you will probably never see again.

Don't see it if you need a structured story with multiple actors.

92
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Exquisite

See it if you want a truly unique evening of theatrical entertainment that is sure to move you - I've never seen anything like it, long may it run!

Don't see it if you only want 'traditional' theatre, this is very different. Some hard hitting moments, but only because it is so real.

Also People throw around 'unique' a lot these days, but this truly is uniqu... Read more Read less

85
Ambitious, Fun, Immersive, Imaginative, Performance art

See it if you always wanted to be a PI. Every moment of the 2 1/2 hours is guided by the appealing, talented Kobayashi who makes the tapes come alive.

Don't see it if you want lots of insight. The tapes aren't extraordinary, but do seal-in-amber the '50s. AK's devotion to unlocking mysteries is infectious.

Also I thoroughly enjoyed SSB, but it isn't really theater. It's more perfo... Read more Read less

95
Clever, Enchanting, Epic, Profound, Resonant

See it if Delving into two old recordings transports us to the past and celebrates the richness of life. Unique take on family, time and mortality.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in multimedia nonfiction performance art. You don't have the patience for a 2 1/2 hour experience.

Also Altered my perspective on life. The ordinary can be extraordinary. Aud... Read more Read less

83
Unique, Surprisingly affecting, Skillfully designed and performed

See it if you're interested in documentary theatre; in the ways in which personal and cultural detritus both define and obscure our identities

Don't see it if you want a traditional play or even typical documentary theatre; this is a sui generis piece that owes more to performance art than theatre

Also Beautifully designed and performed; this is unexpectedly engaging and ... Read more Read less

82
Intelligent, Lively, Thoughtful, Academic, Contemplative

See it if you’re into museum studies and how historians/researchers investigate historical accounts through primary sources; you like nonfiction

Don't see it if you aren’t interested in eavesdropping on 1950’s NY Jewish families; you don’t glean inferences from overheard conversations

Also SSB is like a cleverly edited presentation or seminar told with theatr... Read more Read less

95
Ambitious, Must see, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if You delight in watching mysteries unfold right before your eyes. What a fascinating journey! Don't miss this - utterly original, delightful!

Don't see it if You want a traditional theater experience. Having said that, go see this show anyway! You'll be glad you did!

93
Refreshing, Fascinating, Masterful multi-media design

See it if you're open to a completely unique, painstakingly researched, funny and humanizing performance, up close and personal.

Don't see it if you're not interested in complicated New York-centric family histories.

Also I have never seen anything like this, and I truly loved it. Only 24 pe... Read more Read less

95
Original, Clever, Profound, Refreshing, Fascinating

See it if You want a completely original performance piece. Like being a part of a live unfolding documentary. So good. So original.

Don't see it if You are looking for a play or musical. This is not that. If you don't like performance shows.

100
Exquisite, Intelligent, Moving, Warm, One of the most unique theatrical experiences i have had

See it if you want to have a unique experience in the theatre. Kobayashi investigates a Jewish family in the 1950's, and slowly reveals their history

Don't see it if you don't like intelligent or unusual theatre.

Also "Say Something Bunny" is one of the very best plays of this season. Do... Read more Read less

88
Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Entertaining, Unique

See it if the process of obsession evolving into theater allows you move beyond your comfort zone into this unique experience. A world made from sound

Don't see it if you are expecting a well made play on a proscenium stage.

75
Clever, Compulsive, very compulsive

See it if You are up for something very non-playlike. The creator has been fixated on peculiar evidence, spent years researching, and presented it.

Don't see it if You are not open to work out of the normal parameters. But, hey, loosen up. You may not love it, but it is fascinating in its own way.

90
Absorbing, Ambitious, Profound, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if You are interested in families, nostalgia, history, genealogical research, detective work, etc.

Don't see it if You want big Broadway production values. This is an intimate show (only 24 people in the audience!).

Also It's not exactly a play or a traditional one woman show. It is hard to... Read more Read less

94
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining, Unique

See it if you are open to a different experience, an historical exploration that is part play, part performance art. Clever use of technology.

Don't see it if you only like fully-produced plays/musicals, or would be uncomfortable in an intimate setting

90
Delightful, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy seeing theater in new, fresh and unique ways.

Don't see it if You struggle with reading. You are offended by brief discussions about pornography.

95
Absorbing, Delightful, Must see, Refreshing, Resonant

See it if You enjoy unique theatrical experiences. It's unlike anything else: Part play, part art installation, and part living history.

Don't see it if You don't like interactive shows. You don't have to participate in any way, but the setting is very intimate and demands full engagement.

Also DON'T READ ANY OF THE FEATURES ON IT. Going in fully blind is the best... Read more Read less

90
Ambitious, Clever, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if You're a fan of Serial/investigative docu-dramas. There's no crime here, but has the same pleasures, and packs a surprising emotional punch.

Don't see it if I want to say avoid if you're looking for a traditional play/musical, but take a chance on this. It's a really fun, interesting, and unique.



Cast & Creatives (5)