Jack Thorne has become something of a household name in recent years, writing for several well-known TV dramas including Skins and Shameless, and for the stage – among others a little show you might have heard of called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Bunny is one of his earlier works, first performed in 2010 and now revived for a second time by Fabricate Theatre following a successful run last year.
Bunny is the story of 18-year-old Katie from Luton, whose “sort of boyfriend, sort of not” Abe gets in a fight after a kid on a bike knocks his ice cream out of his hand. The fight itself is brief and disappointing – but the evening’s far from over, and it’s not long before Katie finds herself sitting in a car in a dodgy part of town with a strange man and no knickers.
Of course it doesn’t happen quite as abruptly as that, and Katie talks us through the whole series of events in a rapid-fire monologue that covers race, class, sex, family and a whole lot more. As the play ends, Katie’s left with a decision to make – will she continue to follow the pack in the hopes of winning their favour, or will she go her own way for once?
The story might not be a precise reflection of everyone’s adolescent experience (or at least let’s hope not) but Katie herself, with all her faults, is actually very relatable. No longer a girl but not yet a woman, she hasn’t quite figured out who she is yet, and allows other people’s opinions of her – or at least what she perceives them to be – to shape her actions. So she plays down her obvious intelligence so as not to annoy Abe; she applies to university because her dad wants her to; and she goes along with the events of this particular evening for fear of losing her companions’ respect – not realising until it’s too late that her compliance might be having the opposite effect. When things don’t go her way, she takes revenge in a variety of vindictive ways, but does so in secret so as not to reveal she actually cares about anything.
Jack Thorne’s vivid, compelling writing is complemented by a captivating performance from Catherine Lamb, who captures to perfection the complexities and contradictions of her character. With only an old armchair and some fluffy clouds for company, she fills the remaining space with Katie’s larger than life personality, keeping her just personable enough that we want to keep listening even though we might not like what we hear, and showing just enough vulnerability to ensure that – rightly or wrongly – we remain on her side.
Simply staged by director Lucy Curtis, Bunny‘s impact lies in its script and performance, both of which are exceptional. Fabricate Theatre was founded to create exciting and relevant theatre for young people, and Bunny certainly ticks that box – but there’s plenty here for audiences of any age to enjoy. We were all young once, after all.
Bunny is at Tristan Bates Theatre until 27th January.
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