Jermyn Street Theatre January 2019
Rose Heiney's play explores the way social media can complicate and even magnify the difficulties of a person with low self esteem and little self confidence.
We never get to know what has caused the difficulties of the character who delivers a ninety minute speech to us from an incredibly untidy room that reflects her disordered thoughts. But she does tell us a good deal about her online escapades and something of her particular history that includes her father becoming mentally ill in middle age.
She claims she was a happy child who loved poetry. It led her to Oxford University, only to have that love spoiled by feminists who had her apologising to the world for posting online that she liked a poem byPhilip Larkin and feeling she was 'patriarchy's little bitch.' for thinking that 'the most beautiful thing she had encountered' was a poem by Edward Lear that her dad had read to her when she was twelve years old.
Outside the university she was reduced to tears by the shout of abuse from local girls which rather than generating sympathy from her feminist friend gets her a recommendation to a socialist bookshop to find out what people are like.
Mocking the left and 'metropolitan Guardian reading' liberals she feels much better retreating to the internet, particularly after the web publicity given to a picture of her crouching by a gravestone in her pink bunny suit (a strange gift from a teacher) during a funeral for a lad who died trying to save a child who had fallen in a reservoir. This got her the name original death rabbit and prompted copycat pictures of other people 'death rabbiting events.
But her social media activity doesn't always help.
A troll's cruel comment about her appearance touches on her worries about body image and then her irritation at something written about mental illness leads her to her own reckless trolling.
Its a quirky, mildly amusing story some will like, though it reminded me of occasions when a drunken stranger in a pub would try to regale me with a lengthy emotional tale of personal misery and woe.
We know where this play is going and it isn't really offering much beyond the usual warning, that social media may make your problems worse.
Dramatically there is rarely anything to pull us forward. This original death rabbit with no real name may generate a few laughs but to spend very long with such a self obsessed individual can be wearing.
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Review - Original Death Rabbit - Jermyn Street Theatre 2019