Joe Hampson
Celia Dugua in association with Park Theatre
Park Theatre

Frank (David Schaal) and Susan.(Karen Ascoe) killing a rabbit Credit: David Monteith-Hodge
Karen Ascoe, David Schaal and Alex Fernsa Credit: David Monteith-Hodge
Karen Ascoe, David Schaal and Alex Fernsa Credit: David Monteith-Hodge

The reviewer sitting along from me looked puzzled at the end of Joe Hampson’s play Rabbits.

“So, were we seeing a series of parallel universes?” she asked.

The question was understandable. The three scenes of the play seemed to have little connection with each other beyond revolving round the same central characters the married couple Frank (David Schaal) and Susan (Karen Ascoe).

Even the depictions of these seem to have important differences between scenes. In one they say they have no son. In another they have a very successful son Christopher.

However the scenes follow a similar pattern. Frank would suddenly return to a room after stepping out for five minutes, claim he suspected his wife of having an affair with a third character in the room, be humiliated by Susan before finally regaining his manhood by killing their rabbit Christopher.

Those first scenes are ludicrously unbelievable. In one Frank walks unannounced into the house and bedroom of Kevin (Alex Fernsa) a person he has never met.

Woken by the intruder Kevin demands to know if he has come to violently recover a Spiderman comic he nicked. But no, Frank explains. He wants to offer Kevin a thousand pounds to kill a rabbit.

Kevin says he will do so to avoid being a scrounger on the State.

All this happens with clunky dialogue that feels as if it has been made up on the spot.

Susan tells Kevin that Frank “is the man you cuckolded” and angrily informs Frank that “your sperm is no better than yoghurt but no one would want to buy it”.

By the short third scene, most of the audience probably assumed they had been watching a series of disconnected off-cuts from a rejected television comedy.

In that final ten minute scene, characters discuss the benefits of role play to relationships and you could then decide that it all had been just a series of role play exercises.

Unfortunately this didn’t make for an interesting play. The structure is confusing, the characters unbelievable, the dialogue irritatingly poor and nothing about it is remotely funny. The miracle is that the actors manage to deliver the piece without crying.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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