Friday, June 8, 2007

Rabbit - June 7, 2007

Nina Raine's Rabbit is a deceptive little play. Right from the opening lines of "no" *pause* "no" *pause* "no" spoken in a Beckett-like style by a father and daughter you are deceived. Because it is not a Beckett-y play. It switches to a naturalist comedy as we meet the daughter, Bella (Charlotte Randle) and her friend Emily ( Ruth Everett) at a bar celebrating Bella's 29th birthday. And we are deceived. Because it's not completely a comedy. It switches to flashbacks of Bella and her father and we find that the truth of this piece is Bella's desire to let go of the past - and her inability to truly do so.

photo credit: Robert Workman

Bella's father is dying. He is in hospital attended by his wife and sons while Bella tries to live her life and celebrate her birthday at a party she has arranged with all her friends; the majority of whom have never met. This is because Bella needs to be in control, needs to not risk that an old flame may be more interested in Emily than her, not risk that she might find love if she lets herself feel. But the night of her birthday, as her father is dying, the combination of emotions and the co-mingling of her various groups of friends makes it impossible for her to keep her memories at bay. Makes it impossible for her to continue to deceive herself.

On the surface this is a thoroughly enjoyable light play with witty dialogue, amusing characters and the 'oops' factor of running into an old love. But below the surface is a smart dissection of human relationships, how enduring old pains can be, and how difficult it can be to let go of subjective memories.

The cast is superb. Hilton McRae as Father is wonderful as he shows us a man losing his ability to communicate because of illness, and a younger man who has the same problem - for different reasons. Charlotte Randle runs the gamut of emotions and takes us with her every step of the way. Ruth Everett makes the young doctor Emily enchanting - it's not easy to tell a story about dissection and neurology and make it casual and fun. Adam James (Richard) and Alan Westaway (Tom) show us two very different men with much in common below the surface and Susannah Wise (Sandy) has a comic timing and delivery that is enviable. Nina Raine has written a very smart, very deceptive little play here and her direction is clear and crisp.

Rabbit is a pleasure. You will not regret the deceptions and you might gain a little insight.

59E59 Theaters (B)
59 East 59th St.
New York, NY
Tickets: 212-279-4200
running time: 1 hour 50 mins with intermission

Now in Previews
Opens on June 10, 2007
Closes on July 1, 2007

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