Rabbit Rabbit, a brand new dramedy about a sexually deviant clown and a teenage prostitute is brilliant but not for the weak of heart.
Written by Montrealer Amy Lee Lavoie, this is the National Theatre School student’s debut play.
The play opens with Larry (Howard Rosenstein) and Brittany (Ashley Dunn) in their filthy motel room, preparing for a night of debauchery. Larry is a pedophilic party clown who pays weekly visits to a preteen prostitute named Sabrina so he can get his “fix.” But tonight he has Brittany, a more seasoned member of the trade, who is looking to get more than a four out of 10 on Larry’s customer satisfaction survey. Both have a lot to lose, yet what makes Rabbit Rabbit so intriguing is what they gain.
For a play that began as an assignment in theatre school, Lavoie pulls out all the stops in creating characters and dialogue that are authentic to the perverse universe she brings to life, particularly Brittany’s paralleling of an over-sized pen to the male anatomy.
Bain St-Michael is an ideal venue for a play set in a dilapidated room in a dingy motel. The pool-turned-theatre is not refurbished at all 8212; old off-white tile, washroom facilities with out-of-order sinks (not to worry, they have hand sanitizers and wet towelettes), and a slight odour of chlorine that hits the senses walking in. The actual stage is the deep end of a pool, now fit with bleacher-style seating.
Ariane Genet de Miomande’s set is tasteless and looks like a room worth less than $8 a night; a perfect setting for the story. Broken mirrors, torn wallpaper, and light bulbs that don’t work reflect the dysfunction of the play’s characters.
Guy Sprung’s direction gives the characters dynamic movements in a confined space, but many exciting dialogues are lost when the actors speak to mirrors or do not face the audience.
Rabbit Rabbit brings newcomer Dunn tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte with Rosenstein, a 25-year stage veteran. Rosenstein strikes the perfect balance between a haunting, lustful pedophile and a troubled, socially awkward man. His use of voices, his normal voice and the high-pitched shrill of a clown, is fantastic. Rosenstein wears the character like a second skin, dancing and making an impressive balloon poodle just like a clown.
Dunn matches Rosenstein well in her debut performance. Her portrayal of teenage angst is commendable and her courage to perform such a demanding piece is truly impressive. Yet her performance sometimes misses the mark when her delivery doesn’t ring true. The audience has a hard time believing that she is a teenage girl with three years in the sex trade under her belt.
Rabbit Rabbit is not a play for the weak at heart or the weak of mind. It toys with perceptions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, tragedy and comedy. This brilliant home-grown play is as entertaining as it is thought provoking.
Rabbit Rabbit plays at Bain St-Michel, 5300 Rue St-Dominique until November 29. $20, students and seniors: $15. www.infinitheatre.com