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White Bear Theatre: Where the Shot Rabbits Lay

| Culture, Theatre | 16/09/2013

Photo credit: Marek Borysiewicz

The first thing that strikes you on entering the space is the beautifully painted set by Andy Robinson – you can almost smell the bracken and even hear it underfoot before the play’s started. A slightly late start whilst punters fuddled-about meant that, having settled in comfortably, I then had to shuffle along and half my view was blocked. For the first time visiting the White Bear I wished the rear seats higher.

This shouldn’t detract from the play though initially there wasn’t much to detract from. A whole scene spent on the minutiae of putting-up a tent with no obvious metaphor – or perhaps too obvious a metaphor – and scant entertainment value. A Pathé instructional film minus the stroppy Vicky-Pollard-Era-Adolescent who only continued to be stroppy. I further incanted the sufficiency of a pop-up tent and be done with it.

A series of short vignettes by Brad Birch played-out briefly, expertly and predictably: a divorced father attempting to bond with his pubescent offspring in albeit consummate portrayals by Peter Warnock and Richard Linnell respectively, under the evidentially efficient direction of Roland Jaquarello.

Not before time their anger surfaced via increasing tension readying for the hunt: father showing son how to shoot; how to handle a gun; how to be powerful; how to be ‘A Man’. Everything, of course, he is not and all in youthful innocence his son is – the patriarch’s harping references to a childhood idyll as distant as his understanding of modern teenagers. It is the truth that kills in his salivating salvo: “YOU’RE TOO MUCH LIKE YOUR FUCKING MOTHER!” This guy knows more about pitching a tent, shooting and fishing than how to be a good Dad. Are things so hopeless? Can what is broken actually be mended?

The man revealed as simply a human being is what we want: the comfort that wounds can heal, blood being thicker than water and all that. With questions already answered, the play resolves nothing. Once realised, it serves as an austere reminder of the things we do to protect those we love. And how our aim backfires.

Showing until September 29, 2013

White Bear Theatre

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