Pros: The beguiling Kimberly Nixon mastering some tightly packed dialogue.
Cons: The script is occasionally patronising, diminishing what is otherwise a smartly observed piece.
I always feel a quiet burst of pride when among the first to see a new play. So I can now say I was there for the Original Death Rabbit at the Jermyn Street Theatre. Rose Heiney (of Fresh Meat fame) adapted her original Radio 4 play for the stage and has produced a dark and often funny study of how the internet can ruin people’s lives.
Kimberley Nixon is title lead in the story of a girl consumed by the monstrous presence of social media, whose only comfort blanket against the world is a pink rabbit onesie complete with floppy ears. We learn how the girl in question became an internet sensation when she inadvertently appeared in her onesie at a funeral. The image quickly went viral and the legend of the original death rabbit was born. It led to a rash of copy cats, with pink rabbits turning up at weddings and Remembrance Sunday events. The girl’s newly acquired status is proof of the internet as substitute for real life. She makes a living via social media and attracts thousands of followers on Twitter. However, she is inexorably drawn into the rabbit hole of online trolling, with its obvious dangers.
A one act monologue places an extraordinary amount of pressure on the performer, but Kimberley Nixon smashes it in every sense of the word. The play demonstrates quite clearly how much we live our lives through the internet; a ravenous animal we have willingly fed but can no longer control. It delivers a gobsmacking twist that I hadn’t expected, and further proves the internet’s dynamic potential. If the play does have a weakness it lies in the script’s tone, which on occasion feels incredibly po faced; making value judgements about people who read the Guardian and Daily Mail? It
just seems clichéd and predicable to take pot-shots at the liberal elite (whoever they are) and seriously think it’s clever. It’s an irritant that sadly distracts from what is, on the whole, a well written play. But happily there is enough substance to make this a highly entertaining production.
Author: Rose Heiney
Director: Hannah Joss
Producer: Jermyn Street Theatre
Box Office: 020 7287 2875
Booking Link: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/jermynstreettheatre/list.aspx?tagref=163
Booking Until: 9 February 2019