What do you think of when you think of “rabbits”? Rabbit holes? Multiplying like rabbits? A fluffy caged animal? You might not think rabbits symbolize an epic battle of the sexes, but that’s exactly what Nina Raine’s Rabbit amounts to.
First performed in London in 2006, Rabbit garnered Raine the Evening Standard’s Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright and the Most Promising Playwright Award at the 2006 Critics’ Circle Theatre Award. Rabbit made its American debut in 2007 at the Brits Off-Broadway Festival in New York. Since then, Raine has written several more plays, most recently Bach & Sons, which opened this summer at the Bridge Theatre in London.
How does Rabbit fit Southbank’s history theme?
Raine’s signature theme in all her work is family. In Rabbit, a father-daughter relationship serves as a personal history that explains Bella’s combative relationship with men, her ambivalence toward women, and her vow to never marry. Celebrating her 29th birthday while her father languishes from terminal brain cancer, Bella is preoccupied with the past and how it shapes her future. Funny, taboo, and occasionally tender, Rabbit raises the questions that we dare not ask aloud: How do women become part of history when they have always been relegated to footnotes: “the wife, mother, daughter, or sister of –” some famous man?
Nina Raine herself must be familiar with the joys and perils of being related to famous people. Interviews and articles from the Evening Standard, Guardian, and the Times about Raine note that she is the daughter of Craig Raine, the British poet, and sometimes they mention her mother, Ann Pasternak Slater, the scholar, and that she’s the grand-niece to Boris Pasternak, the Russian novelist. That personal history seeps into Raine’s plays in the guise of erudite families like the ones in Tribes and Bach & Sons, but also appears Rabbit when Bella faces criticism for not living up to her potential.
Sounds serious. Is it really funny?
Yes! While there is a balance of comic and serious moments in the play, overall, it is very funny. Sometimes the best way to contemplate deep subjects is to find the irony in them and point it out — in the vein of Oscar Wilde or Douglas Adams. Raine’s snappy dialogue and smart characters entertain while they interrogate.
When and Where?
Rabbit runs Thursday, December 2 – Sunday, December 12 at Storefront Theatre in Indianapolis. Tickets: Fri & Sat $25; Thurs & Sun $22 with discounts available for Seniors and students. (This play is definitely for mature audiences.)