Writer: Jack Thorne
Director: Lucy Curtis
Reviewer: Stephen Bates
Writer Jack Thorne is riding on the crest of a wave right now with Harry Potter… in the running for multiple awards and heading for Broadway, but it is a big leap from a West End extravaganza to a small pub theatre production of a gritty hour-long monologue such as Bunny, first seen in 2010. It is also a long way from Hogwarts to Luton, the setting for this play.
As with the later Let the Right One In, Thorne concerns himself with an adolescent straying into dark territory. Katie is in her last year at school, casually promiscuous, showing tendencies towards kleptomania and playful, but with a spiteful streak. Jumping randomly between inconsequential ramblings and pointed storytelling she describes her family, her boyfriend Abe who, to her parents’ consternation, is black and his two mates from the Vauxhall factory – mysterious Asif and stuttering Jake. She tells us that she prefers surprise to suspense, because “I feel suspense all the time”, a trait that perhaps typifies an age group dogged by insecurity.
Catherine Lamb’s Katie is hyperactive in body and mind, inquisitive but knowing too much at the same time as knowing too little. A petty tiff over a ruined ice cream becomes a matter of honour and revenge as she and the three men enter into a chase across a town that is multicultural but divided along ethnic lines. The location is as confused about its identity as is Katie about hers. Thorne’s colourful writing and Lamb’s lively delivery take us effortlessly with the quartet on its journey.
Lucy Curtis directs a taut production, hinting at hidden danger even when there is none there. Flickering lights and sudden noises keep us on edge and, until we actually arrive, it is never obvious where the journey will end. Dramatically, Thorne’s narrative is low-key and he delivers no hefty punches. Instead, he turns his play into a methodical, probing exploration of the uncertain and dangerous place that exists between childhood and adulthood.
Runs until 25 March 2017 | Image: Romana Patton