Saturday, January 31, 2015


Play #3 is Rabbit by Nina Raine, which actually surprised me a little bit.

It's by far the most realistic of the plays I've read so far, taking place in a bar during a small gathering celebrating the 29th birthday of the central character, Bella. I sort of expected it to be a whiny, raunchy, 20-something gab fest. But as she drinks with two friends and two ex-lovers, the specter of her father's impending death of a brain tumor hovers in the periphery. As they argue over gender relations and sex, Bella floats in and out of the bar into conversations with her ailing father - sometimes in his healthier years, sometimes when he has decided not to seek treatment. Production wise, it's a fairly uncomplicated play, but the emotions that come with having to watch a parent slip away are anything but uncomplicated. A central metaphor ends up being a little set of chimes with angels that spin around when heated by a candle. A gift from one of her ex-lovers, the angel chimes remind her of her childhood - a time that she desperately wishes she could reclaim (don't we all?). But also, as everyone else looks at it, they can never decide whether it's moving clockwise or counterclockwise... perspectives on the world and life and love and death and sex are always sort of like that, aren't they?

The conversations feel truthful and real, and the subtext that haunts Bella is appropriately raw and personal. I feel like there is good material for undergraduate scenes and monologues in here. The moments and objectives are clear and relatable, the characters are young. Aside from Bella and her friend Emily (who is a doctor... and is the only one who knows about Bella's father's illness), they all lack the ability to reflect on the inevitability and pain of this kind of loss. They are absolutely devoted to the trivial concerns of their egos and jobs and sex lives, and they can't seem to see beyond the tips of their own noses.

Losing a parent makes a person an adult in a way that nothing else can. And the final scene of the play - a recovered moment between Bella as a child and her father - is a poignant illustration of the safety of childhood that we all, at one time or another, long for.

Oh... and here's a great line:
"Everyone starts by pretending. If you can't do it you can't do it. But you have to start by pretending that you can. With everything. Then you find out if you're right."

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