Playmates: Original Death Rabbit @JSTheatre
A monologue by a woman in a dirty rabbit onesie seems like the unlikeliest of dark tales. But Original Death Rabbit leaves no stone unturned. It‘s an exploration of millennial angst, mental illness and the quest for acceptance on the internet. Rose Heiney’s monologue which was originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four is currently playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre.
It opens with a woman in a filthy pink bunny outfit. She is the original death rabbit. It started out as a stunt at university to reclaim the bunny from Playboy. But by accident she became an internet meme when she photographed wearing the outfit at a cemetery. Soon death rabbiting (wearing a bunny outfit in inappropriate settings) became a thing. Like planking or flossing. And then a promising career tumbles down a rabbit hole of internet forums, social media platforms, mental illness and addiction.
On the internet, anyone can be a star. Unless of course you have a theatre blog. If you’re controversial and unique you can get a following. The piece becomes a part history of the internet as she discovers twitter and graphically live-tweets about her sister giving birth. It had me thinking I was aiming too low when I attempted one of the first live tweets of an ill-fated West End show.
But there is something compelling throughout this piece. It alternates between hilarity and darkness in equal measure. And explores the antics of a generation where everything is acted out on a public forum that is only a google search away. Everything is searchable, indexable, meme-able and can follow you as a matter of record.
Holding it all together is a terrific performance by Kimberley Nixon. In her dirty bunny outfit she balances the all the contradictions of the character to give a warm and vulnerable performance.
The space of Jermyn Street Theatre has been transformed into a fabulously filthy dirty flat by designer Louie Whitemore. Anyone familiar with the layout of the theatre will feel hesitant walking across the stage to the bathrooms. You’ll worry about stepping on something unpleasant. Thankfully the design doesn’t extend to the facilities.
Directed by Hannah Joss, The Original Death Rabbit is at Jermyn Street Theatre until 9 February.
Photos by Robert Workman