Review: Original Death Rabbit

By Amelie Lambie-Proctor

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Engaging and wonderfully comic, Lion Theatre Company’s production of Rose Heiney’s Original Death Rabbit, directed by Isabella Thompson, is an extremely relevant play that depicts the story of one woman and her struggles with the dark side of the internet. Pictured at a funeral in a pink rabbit suit, she unwillingly becomes an internet meme, and the one-women show draws on her relationship with the internet and the repercussions that occur from becoming an online hit. All this whilst she deals with her father’s schizophrenia and own mental health. With punchy one-liners and dominated by dark humor, a blazingly witty character begins to share her story online in the form of a video. The story is told by the incredible who gives a fabulously compelling performance.

As an audience member, we are immediately drawn into this character’s story as she directly and openly converse with us, and Hargreaves uses direct address fantastically

Set in the modern-day, an Oxford graduate begins to record an online video. As an audience member, we are immediately drawn into this character’s story as she directly and openly converses with us, and Hargreaves uses direct address fantastically. She is waiting on stage for us as we take our seats. This simple but wonderfully clever direction introduces the audience and character instantly. Hargreaves brilliantly uses this opportunity to establish the foundations of a very intimate relationship between the audience and character.

Another great attribute of the play that compliments this unique relationship, is the cozy and warm set. Cafédral is transformed into an intimate space with soft wooden furnishing and an autumnal colour pallet. The idea of draping the ceiling in white camo netting was pure genius! The existing harsh, school dining hall-inspired ceiling disappears and it is this choice that makes the whole space feel soft and therefore inviting. It is this key characteristic that draws the audience into the performance.

The books that flood every corner of the stage, the multiple gin bottles, and the numerous plates of microwave meals paint a picture of the character

When it comes to props, the attention to detail is second to none. They create the atmosphere of the characters’ flat. The books that flood every corner of the stage, the multiple gin, and vodka bottles, and the numerous plates of microwave meals paint a picture of the character. Posters of what are apparently the best Richard Curtis plays provide a constant reminder of the importance that the character’s Curtis fan page! The transformation of the venue is brilliant, but a lot of the performance is confined to one area of the stage, making the empty space feel disconnected. However, this is only a minor point.  

The character is brilliantly layered and Hargreaves communicates the need the character has to search for validation online after facing some extremely emotionally deamnding situations

Hargreaves’ performance is simply outstanding. She presents a character who is extremely likable and immerses the audience in her storytelling so well that it feels as if we are sitting in her flat! Her performance is confident and engaging throughout and the laughter just kept coming! The character is brilliantly layered and Hargreaves communicates the need the character has to search for validation online after facing some extremely emotionally demanding situations. The character also talks a lot about her relationships with her sister and friend, both of whom seem to be difficult people, and the way in which she makes these people come alive is so brilliant. Her uses of silence and stillness to pick key moments of the character’s hardships are really moving and remind the audience of how one moment, word, or action can change a person’s life. Her performance was natural, captivating, and executed superbly!

A cold and eeire atmosphere creeps in which is beautifully paired with Hargreaves emotional performance at a time in the play when unthinkable events start to take place

Hargreaves makes clear distinctions between the highs and lows of the character and this was enhanced by fantastic lighting choices. At the start of the show, warm and soft lamps light the stage and as the character takes a turn for the worse, she switches these off and a bright, white, hospital-like light illuminates the stage. A cold and eerie atmosphere creeps in which is beautifully paired with Hargreaves’ emotional performance at a time in the play when unthinkable events start to take place.

The Original Death Rabbit is about the dark corners of the internet and the devastating effects it can have on a person’s mental health. Despite this, the play remains wildly funny through the exceptional delivery of dark humor by Daisy Hargreaves. The Production team makes marvelous and sensitive choices that go hand in hand with Hargreaves gripping performance, making this play a joy to watch!

Image credit: Lion Theatre Company

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