Katie knows a lot of things: she’s smart; she’s not the most popular student (but also not the least); everyone left her birthday party at 10pm; she’s a virgin; she’s 16. But the thing she’s most certain of is that there is an overwhelming amount of things she doesn’t know.
Jack Thorne’s Bunny made a splash at Edinburgh seven years ago, winning a Fringe First, with Rosie Wyatt in the main role. In this incarnation by Fabricate Theatre Catherine Lamb takes the lead. She’s instantly likeable, sitting with her body scrunched up, nervously giggling, unsure of how to start her story, until she launches in and proves an instantly compelling narrator. It’s reminiscent of a young student who puts their hand up then begins with an apology before stating their point. Lamb is able to express a deep-rooted uncertainty of her place in the world, partnered with a forensic desire to be heard and understood. Thorne’s piece articulates what it’s like to be overwhelmed by all the decisions you’re meant to make when the end of school looms.
There are numerous external pressures that push Katie in different directions, and she doesn’t quite have the toolkit to give a firm push back. Lucy Curtis’ direction strongly captures the scatty nature of a teenager over-excited by storytelling. Katie hops from one line of thought to the next, injecting the rhythm of the story with a bouncy vibrancy, especially when coupled with the physical details she brings to the monologue. Curtis and Lamb have realised each moment to its potential, perhaps at the risk of bloating Thorne’s carefully crafted piece, but overwhelming it is the sense of teenage spirit that comes through and is most valuable.
In many ways, Bunny is a dark story. As her curiosity increases, Katie tries to assert herself as a sexual being, flirting with boys older and more experienced than her and making herself vulnerable to humiliation. Lamb depicts the bruising effect this has to someone’s ego brilliantly and goes on to illustrate the recklessness of someone who becomes jaded. Katie rebels in quiet and perhaps cruel ways. She steals her mother’s purse and then returns it £1.50 lighter; she steals pointless items from the local shop and displays them like trophies. When problems arise, she demonstrates an inclination to act out. She’s not chained to doing the right thing, and that feels remarkably unsettling. Katie’s issues are mostly routine: anxieties about applying for the right university and navigating the social battleground of school, but there are also experiences that seem more individual. In Lucy Weller’s set design clouds that hang from the ceiling fluctuate between blue and warmer colours, alluding to the sometimes fuzzy state of Katie’s thought process and also how easily teenage minds can dance with depression. It is notable how frequently the clouds buzz blue.
Bunny is on at the White Bear Theatre until 25th March 2017. Click here for more details.