Written by one of the writers of Skins and Shameless, this play is an extraordinarily tense and entertaining experience, fronted in fact by just one actor, the brilliant Emma D’Arcy. Bunny leaps into action as Katie almost falls on stage, wearing her school uniform typically short and dishevelled, on a very hot day after orchestra practice. She has somehow ended up on the wrong side of Luton in a car with her older boyfriend Abe and two strangers, staking out a house and regretting taking off her knickers in the heat.
From the beginning, Katie alone is our guide through the events of this one afternoon as she tells her story at breakneck speed with a wonderful mixture of toilet humour and unconsciously witty anecdotes, occasionally joined with serious moments of self-doubt and questioning of the world she is living in – that is, Luton, where “half of the illegal arms of the country are hidden, so if civil war broke out the capital of the country would be Luton”. We have in front of us an eighteen year old who is both innocent of the adult world that she is entering, and yet perfectly capable of riding it out – this is one of finer depictions of a struggling teenager that I have seen in the theatre for quite a while. Emma D’Arcy carries the role off to almost perfection; any mistakes are all part of the story-telling style of the monologue so fit into the play perfectly – in fact it would have been much less believable without these errors. As my friend commented to me afterwards, by the halfway point, Katie’s dilemma was so convincing that you might have a hard time remembering that the incident with the ice cream and the ensuing escapades didn’t actually happen to a friend of yours!
The flashbacks that Thorne works into the monologue could have become irritating, but instead, acted as much needed breaks in the tension which began to ramp up towards the end. They gave the play a tantalising structure: a cliff-hanger, followed by a glimpse into Katie’s home life, then the resolving of the cliff-hanger we were previously left on – although, of course, not everything is necessarily resolvable. By the end of the play, I was hanging on Katie’s every word, despite the sheer focus needed to follow everything that was happening over that hour. Any longer would have been too long for the audience’s concentration but again Thorne times Bunny to perfection. Although very well done, I felt that perhaps the animation behind Katie was a little distracting at times as some of the slides were repeated fairly often, but, for some, they could provide a visual reminder of the repetitive and almost inevitable nature of the story. Lastly, the director, lighting designer and production manager must be praised for the achievement of this play, with just the right variations in lighting gearing up the tension, and the staid but telling set all adding to the atmosphere. Go and give this play a shot, you may be just a surprised as me!
***** (5 Stars)