White Bear, London – until 25 March 2017
“I prefer surprise to suspense. But that’s basically because I feel suspense all the time.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has catapulted Jack Thorne‘s already fast-rising star into the higher echelons of British writing talent, so it is always interesting to look back to earlier work to see if the seeds of success can be spotted. Perhaps with this in mind, newly formed company Fabricate Company have opted to revive his 2010 Fringe First-winning one-woman play Bunny at the tidily renovated White Bear (pub grub definitely recommended, as is the exceptionally friendly bar service).
Recounted by the breathlessly energetic and recklessly teenage Katie, Bunny takes a snapshot of her life in the racially divided estates of Luton over the course of a hot summer’s afternoon. A messy encounter between her older boyfriend Abe and an Asian kid on a bike spirals into something more profoundly disturbing when Abe’s friends get involved and she goes along for the ride, knowing full well there’s more than just a dropped ice-cream at stake here.
Thorne writes skilfully of the awkwardness of late teenage years, the frustration of not quite being an adult along with the certainty of no longer being a child and at her best, Catherine Lamb’s narrator captures these bustling contradictions as she lashes out pettily at her parents and struggles to disentangle her sense of self-worth from her burgeoning sexuality. There’s a brittle sense of arrogance too but one that is coupled with an acknowledgement that grim hometowns aren’t always that easy to escape.
Lucy Curtis’s production suffers a little bit from its distractions, an over-reliance on physical business that belies the strength of the writing here, further exaceberated by the L-shaped seating which means Lamb is constantly having to choose a side to deliver to and thus always robbing someone of Bunny’s intensity. I have to admit to being spoiled by having seen and loved the show in 2011 at the Soho Theatre when Rosie Wyatt gave a stunning account of the role but this is still a strong start for Fabricate and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.