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Original Death Rabbit (Susan Elkin reviews)

Original Death Rabbit – ★★★★
By Rose Heiney
society/company: West End & Fringe
performance date: 11 Jan 2019
venue: Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST
 

★★★★

Rose Heiney’s 90-minute play about internet addiction, self respect, relationships and more is acutely observed and immaculately well written. Bravo.

A monologue, directed by Hannah Joss, it presents an unnamed 20-something woman (Kimberley Nixon) who occupies a gloriously squalid room (an accolade for designer Louie Whitemore), dressed in a filthy pink rabbit onesie – with ears. The set and her clothing reflect her state of mind. As she unravels her story we learn that, traumatised by her father’s developing violent, section-able schizophrenia in his mid fifties she becomes attached to “the bunny”. That doesn’t matter too much until she accidentally gets into a press photograph of a teenage funeral unconnected to her. Then she and her photograph, her tweets and her blog posts go viral and she becomes ever more “fucked up” as her favourite poet Philip Larkin bluntly but eloquently put it. But she never stops being very funny indeed as well as evoking horrified sympathy.

Nixon’s naturalistic acting is splendid. Most of the time the work is invisible and therefore totally convincing as she slurps vodka, fiddles with her computer, perches on an old sideboard or waves odd bits of the set about. She times her anecdotes skilfully and imitates everyone she meets and tells us about. She presents a fine cameo for example of her rampantly left wing but posh Oxford University friend Penny (Benenden and her father has five Labradors) and another of her strident, needy younger sister who can barely read packet instructions. The neat way she nails the all too recognisable stereotypes and the things they say is hilarious. She’d good at voices and accents too, playing in her native Welsh lilt but mimicking lots of others. It’s a bravura performance and if it was, in places, slightly gabbled with consequent stumbles on press night I shall put that down to opening night nerves.

It’s a fine, cuttingly topical play which showcases an outstanding performance. You have until 9 February to catch it.

First published by Sardines: http://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/reviews/review.php?REVIEW-West%20End%20&%20Fringe-Original%20Death%20Rabbit%20-%20%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85&reviewsID=3449
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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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