White Bear Theatre, London – until 25 March 2017
Katie is a fairly average eighteen-year-old living a life busy with A-levels, uni applications and her older boyfriend, Abe. She’s not sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life, but she’s enjoying the here and now of Luton in the springtime. Her fragmented story by Jack Thorne focuses on one afternoon after school that starts out predictably, but soon spirals out of her comfort zone. The action that unfolds tests Katie’s maturity and independence, but the story is not one that is particularly interesting even with good delivery.
First produced in 2010, Bunny is clearly contemporary but Katie isn’t burdened by current politics. There’s some contemplation of race relations, but she worries more about sex and whether or not to go to uni than Trump instigating WWIII or needing to sort a visa on a girls’ weekend to Ibiza. Thorne’s created an expressive young woman with little filter, but in moments of vulnerability, her lack of life experience is painfully obvious. Her naiveté is charming, but insubstantial.
Nevertheless, Catherine Lamb endows her with a bright-eyed energy that’s fun and engaging to watch. The pace is a tad too quick, with some moments not given enough space to breathe, adding to the feeling of frivolity.
The story progresses from run-of-the-mill, to mildly thrilling, to uncomfortable, though it spends too long in the first instance. Even when it reaches the latter stages, the events that unfold aren’t particularly pleasant but neither do they make for significant conflict. The solo performance only allows for Katie’s youthful perspective, but the things that happen to her are driven by a more adult world that she doesn’t really understand and doesn’t have the maturity to stand up to. Whilst this works for some of the story, it falls short in others. Her unwillingness to say “no” is frustratingly anti-feminist, though an accurate reflection of life as a young woman.
Lamb’s performance is committed, without it the hour would be much more of a slog. As is, an open ending and having an older perspective fosters some reflection on the indiscretion and false confidence of youth, but the story from the perspective it’s told from is neither new or particularly dynamic.