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Last Chance to See: Original Death Rabbit

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Bethan Kapur discovers the dark side of becoming an Internet star, thanks to one-woman show Original Death Rabbit

BAFTA Award-winning actor Kimberly Nixon (known best for her roles in Fresh Meat, Ordinary Lies and Cranford) plays an Oxford English Literature graduate in Rose Heiney’s latest drama, Original Death Rabbit, whose brief stint with Internet fame has been consuming her life. Heiney, who, like the protagonist, graduated from Oxford University in 2006, demonstrates a timely understanding of the internal torment that many young women face with regard to life online.

The main (and only) character, who remains nameless throughout, becomes an Internet meme after being photographed in the background of a funeral wearing a pink rabbit onesie.

This woman is painfully self-aware with a tendency to self deprecate, a likely result of the years she has spent reading the messages of Internet trolls. She is mindful of every criticism that could be made of her, explaining how she’s too privileged to deserve sympathy for her struggles with mental health and joking that she is “the patriarchy’s little b***h” for loving old poetry written by old white men.

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Wearing the infamous rabbit onesie, she slouches in her messy bedroom (designed by Louie Whitemore) behind a laptop, taking regular swigs from various open bottles of vodka. When she first describes herself as a student her self-criticism is light-hearted, but this steadily descends into more serious self-inflicted judgement. The distance between the woman being discussed and the one in front of us shrinks throughout and as the story progresses the steaks become higher. The protagonist is more impassioned and entangled with the narrative as she is no longer able to see error in her ways.

Nixon perfectly captures how the mental strain that comes with Internet infamy can impact the already intense struggle of having mental health problems in the modern world. Her swings between rationality and crippling self-hatred paints an all too familiar picture of someone who has been able to cut themselves off from the real world, existing in a suspended state between clicks and comments.

The story of an Internet recluse works perfectly as a one woman show. Her online love interest, @duckface69 and, her arch nemesis, @hipsteripster along with her frustrated sister who occasionally calls, come alive through Nixon’s performance leaving no room for doubt about how they affect her life.

This play combines a perceptive script, perfect comedic timing and intelligent direction by Hannah Joss. Achingly relatable to anyone who checks their Instagram more than once an hour, Heiney’s writing is a dark delight.

Original Death Rabbit, until February 9th. Jermyn Street Theatre,
16b Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6ST, 020 7287 2875, jermynstreettheatre.co.uk

Photographs courtesy of Robert Workman.

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