Review: Rabbit

Image credit: Alexandra Badut

Nina Raine’s Rabbit explores the anxiety of being a year away from turning thirty, still being single and feeling like you haven’t yet reached your goals and, on top of all of that, having a father dying in hospital. As a second year student, that kind of reality seems foreign and far away, but the plot of Rabbit, despite being simplistic, still manages to be effortlessly relatable and relevant in many ways.  This ADC late show, which is running from Wednesday to Saturday of this week, looks into how straining familial relationships can be, while also portraying female friendship and the honesty that comes along with it.

Bella, the protagonist, organises a gathering for her twenty-ninth birthday. It seems like a harmless idea in theory, but as more people arrive at the bar conversation shifts from playful teasing to something of a battle of the sexes, with scathing comments thrown across the table by the men and women present. Essentially, it’s all fun and games until feelings get involved and someone gets hurt. The characters discuss the implications of sexual relations, and soon realise, “this has everything to do with sex. This is about men and women. It’s because he’s a man and you’re a woman.” This is all done through a wonderfully comedic lens. The conversation had me chuckling and sometimes gasping in shock throughout as the characters spouted out hilarious sweeping statements about gender roles and the power that comes along with sex.  

The set design and lighting were delightful: the play takes place in a bar, which is lit up by bright pinks and purples, and the friends spend their time gathered around a table. The events of the play take place over one evening, but every so often lighting changes would signify the beginning of a flashback or memory interwoven into the main narrative. The transitions between the present day action and Bella’s past were smooth and successful in explaining why exactly Bella is so fiercely competitive.  

The cast of six work well together. A stand out member of the cast was Georgia Vyvyan, who played Bella, and expertly portrayed a believable range of emotions. She bounced off Will Hale, who assumed the role of her father, and was just as pleasant to watch. It was nice to see the contrasting personalities of the characters clash, especially as more alcohol was consumed. The moments of palpable awkwardness that occurred within the group were highly amusing. The play brings up questions and conversations about age and feelings of mediocrity: does the solidarity of being a woman among women exist when men are thrown into the mix? Does ambition as a woman have more consequences than benefits? Does love make a person weak? This all leads to subtle (or sometimes very explicit) rivalry and tension between friends. My only problem was that the characters don’t develop much throughout the play. There are definitely moments of introspection, for Bella in particular, but they seemed to mostly end in the same position they started off in.

In Rabbit male/female relationships, whether they may be familial or sexual in nature, are presented as difficult to navigate through. The plot bit of a Sex and the City vibe, but the ending was somewhat lacklustre. I would have liked more concrete and hopeful finish to the play, but it ends on a glum note. Though perhaps this is representative of life: people expect everything to end with a significant bang, but it can often go out with a whimper. Overall, however, Rabbit is enjoyable and entertaining. The characters’ outrageous repartee made it a witty late show and perfect for this slot. Because after drinks with friends, what’s better than going to see a play about drinks with friends?

8/10

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