“I imagine the other future…”
Jack Thorne’s Bunny first played at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was exceptionally well received, winning a Fringe First award. This 60 minute monologue has now taken up residence in the intimate space upstairs at the Soho Theatre, nabokov’s production reuniting cast and creatives on this excoriating tale of a day in the life of an eighteen year old girl, Katie, caught on the emotional rollercoaster of young adulthood.
Rosie Wyatt’s Katie is mess of contradictions: a sixth-form good student, clarinet player in the school orchestra and solidly middle class with her Guardian-reading parents but frequently acts out with them as riven with gnawing self-doubt and identity issues. She doesn’t have too many real friends in her life, she’s well known at school for giving anyone a blowjob and she’s currently seeing an older guy Abe, and it is when he gets involved in a street fight that Bunny really kicks off. Sucked into a trail of violent revenge and sexual menace, we follow headstrong Katie as she struggles to keep her head afloat and make the important decisions that could impact the rest of her life.
Wyatt is simply incredible: beautifully capturing the gawky humour of a teenager at sorts with her environment, constantly testing the boundaries of what’s acceptable and intelligent enough to know she’s doing it. As the tension is ratcheted up, she is unwavering in the intensity of her performance, sustaining direct eye contact with seemingly everyone and breaking our hearts as it becomes increasingly clear how fragile the tough outer shell she portrays truly is. Her repeated refrain of ‘I know what I’m doing’ becomes ever more heartbreaking and all the more so given the ambiguity with which the piece ends – no easy resolutions here.
Thorne’s play is set in Luton, beautifully depicted by Jenny Turner’s line illustrations and catchingly animated by video designer Ian William Galloway, and as such evokes a social and economic portrait, whilst specific to that town in its racial divides and declining industry, that feels applicable to so many places in the UK. But with Thorne’s uncanny ability to convey so much of the awkwardness of the teenage experience, the alienation of feeling so alone in a world that doesn’t get you and the uncertainty of how to make life change for the better when the cards don’t always fall your way, Bunny makes for essential and compelling viewing.