Rabbits at Park Theatre
Rabbits is an absurd and darkly comic triptych of stories, following one couple through three possible lives as they deal with the stifling burden of trying to be “normal”, whether inside the bedroom or out of it.
Directed masterfully by Sadie Spencer, the production features David Schaal and Karen Ascoe as Frank and Susan, roles they embody with a complete lack of reserve, which is vital to pulling off some of the plot’s sharper turns. The most dedicated performance, however, comes from Alex Ferns, who acts as a foil to the couple and plays a different character in each discrete narrative. In particular, he is explosive in the compelling first third of the play as Kevin, an at turns charming and alarming sociopath and a character Rabbits somewhat suffers without once it moves on.
The play’s rapid-fire pace, bizarre humour and repetition of plot elements from previous sections lend it, at times, the impression of an uneasy dream. This comes to a head at the end of the second narrative, when the titular rabbit that the first story centred around makes an unexpected and unexplained return. It is possible to wonder whether this was done merely to keep the title relevant. Indeed, though it is difficult to fault writer Joe Hampson for anything in the engagingly madcap “Kevin” section of the play, Alex Ferns’s return as Frank and Susan’s couples therapist, Andrew, gets somewhat bogged down in long explanatory speeches. Hampton, at points, seems too concerned that the audience will not grasp his message to deliver it effectively. The far shorter, final section seems to add little at all.
Nevertheless, if these clunky moments stand out, it is only because the rest of the production proceeds with such ease. All three actors perform demanding roles without faltering and the script inspires laughter from the audience throughout. Particularly impressive is the set design, which makes excellent and inventive use of the small space. Overall, Rabbits is a bizarre but charming play on the bizarre but charming reality of love.
Photo: David Monteith Hodge
Rabbits is at Park Theatre from 26th July until 19th August 2017. For further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Rabbits here: