Tristan Bates Theatre, London – until 27 January 2018
Fabricate Theatre is currently in the middle of a run of Olivier Award-winning Jack Thorne’s Bunny, playing for a short time at Tristan Bates Theatre. The company had a successful run of this play at the White Bear Theatre, and the play itself was first performed in 2010, winning Thorne the Fringe First Award.
A one-woman show, it focuses on an afternoon in the life of Katie, whose fun afternoon with boyfriend Abe gets hijacked after a cyclist knocks his ice cream out of his hand. They have a bit of a scuffle (Abe had almost instinctively kicked his foot out, which sent the cyclist flying) but that seems to be that – until a couple of Abe’s friends turn up and insist on following the cyclist in their car to take proper revenge. Amidst a few flashbacks, the gang’s journey takes them to a rough council estate; what will happen next?
The play is just over an hour long, which makes its performance by Catherine Lamb all the more impressive. Katie talks a lot, in a very informal and conversational style, all the while racing around the room or being very physical – a particularly memorable scene has House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ kick in as it starts playing on the car stereo.
All of a sudden Katie has the urge to follow the song’s instructions. Lamb is dynamic, incredibly expressive, and extremely gifted at telling Katie’s story in an engaging and fluid manner.
Lucy Weller’s design decorates the black box studio simply with a chair and some light-up clouds that are suspended from the ceiling, occasionally changing colour. It paints a striking image and doesn’t detract from the storytelling – or provide any unnecessary distractions.
Katie states at a few points that “life can basically be divided into two things: suspense and surprise”, usually preferring the former. So, quite fittingly in this respect, the play ends with the audience left in suspense as to how the story will eventually end. Obviously this is slightly frustrating, as you always want to know how a story ends, but at the same time it’s quite reflective of real life in that events like this may not have a true ending (they may recur over several episodes, for example) – or if they do, it might be better left unsaid if it ends in the unsavoury way you’re anticipating.
My verdict? A gripping & entertaining one-woman show that plays with the ideas of surprise & suspense, thrillingly performed by Catherine Lamb – well worth a watch.