BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

24/08/2019 - 24/08/2019

TAHI Festival 2019

Production Details

On the surface it’s a tale about one woman’s medieval ancestor… follow the rabbit deeper into the heart of the fray.

Spanning across a casual 681 years and ripping into whatever and whomever she has at hand, Victoria Abbott is tearing herself to pieces and putting it all back together in an hour. You’re in safe hands, but bets are off for those at the gate.

“Easily one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen.” Matt Baker

Join Victoria Abbott in this special unplugged version of her award winning solo in ‘a blistering evening of fight or flight.’

Trigger warning: Sexual assault and harassment. Exits and safety strategies integrated in a briefing at the top of the show.

BATS Theatre: The Random Stage 
24 August 2019
Full Price $20 
Concession Price $15 
Group 6+ $15
TAHI Festival

Season Pass: 3 Shows for $45

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Poster photography – Sacha Stejko
Poster design – George Wallace

Past collaborators:
Benny Joy Smith, Alice Kirker, Molloy, Lucie Everett-Brown, Zane Allen, Daniel Brunskill, Bryony Skillington 

Theatre , Solo ,

1 hr

Dynamic, gentle, discursive yet direct and powerful

Review by John Smythe 25th Aug 2019

If this Rabbit ever runs into your domain, don’t miss it. Whatever this review may reveal, nothing can supplant your experiencing Run Rabbit in person.

As part of TAHI – the New Zealand Festival of Solo Performance, we have been promised a “special unplugged version of [Victoria Abbott’s] award winning solo in ‘a blistering evening of fight or flight’” that’s being tested for tour-ability. Directed by Kate McGill (and with many other collaborators cited) its Auckland seasons in 2018 and earlier this year apparently included multimedia elements that have been dispensed with here.

I can’t say I feel a need for more production values than those we are treated to: artificial grass mats that hide the odd prop, wall-chalked names of places tagged ‘X years or weeks ago’, some judicious lighting, a bit of sound and our own imaginations plus some (unthreatening) audience participation – provoked and encouraged by multiple Victoria Abbotts and their rivetingly engaging performing skills. (As with Hannah Banks in Symmetry, Victoria* morphs seamlessly between different versions of the same-named person.)

Run Rabbit’s publicity material includes a trigger warning about sexual assault and harassment content, and advice that “exits and safety strategies will be integrated into a briefing at the top of the show”. Initially I feel Victoria’s detailed explanation of who she is, what this is, where we are and how it will work touches on the ‘bleeding obvious’ until it sinks in that she’s ensuring we will feel safe when she runs into treacherous territory and takes us with her. But brightly clad in a red crushed-velvet body suit, then a tartan sash added, this genuinely friendly, charming and utterly trustworthy Victoria is not in the least bit threatening.

We are cushioned by time and distance as she takes us back 680 years to her Scottish ancestor Black Agnes, obliged to defend Dunbar Castle against the onslaught of 20 thousand Englishmen, or “fuck-boys” as Agnes calls them. Is she really doomed, as a whispered voice-over suggests, to “death by 20 thousand pricks”? This is a scenario we keep returning to.

The eponymous Rabbit – twitchy, somewhat manic, not happy at being locked out – is fantastical enough to maintain our objectivity, even as we judge her histrionics with a carrot and consider the validity or otherwise of her being considered a psychopath. 

At a more subjective and personal level we get the opportunity to distinguish between metaphor, insults and threats; to consider theories as to when we tell the truth; to be given names and subjected to specific ‘home truths’ which may or may not be to a fault …

A doorbell heralds the recurring visit of a supposedly romantic bloke – “With any luck …” he ventures, each time – whose predatory nature is progressively revealed. Conversely a simple game of ‘Hold Me’ proves safety with strangers is possible when everyone knows and abides by the rules. Victoria’s delight in wordplay offers an amusing way of sharing an understanding of how greatly perceptions can differ. And the siege of Dunbar Castle continues …

Just as it seems that the disparate elements cannot possibly coalesce, it all comes together in the revisiting of an experience in Dunedin 11 years ago. From 14th century to present day New Zealand women have been under siege, be it in their own homes or outside, in a world they have every right to feel safe within.

The simple use of a green light has the extraordinary effect of turning the red clothing black and redefining the tartan sash. Victoria and Black Agnes have become one.

“I am a diehard romantic,” Victoria writes in her programme note. “And some of the most romantic moments in my life have happened when I have been walking in the world, alone. Rebecca Solnit wrote that a ‘romance’ used to mean a questing journey … and as soon as I focussed in on that, the accumulated interruptions started to assert themselves.” It is also apparent that much of what we have witnessed is based on Victoria’s own experiences.

In a dynamic, gentle, discursive yet direct and powerful way, Run Rabbit offers support to anyone who has experienced such events and/or feels under siege, and a salutary nudge to anyone who may have been complicit or could do more to ensure women’s right to fearlessly claim the night, the day and the world at large, as a safe place to be when alone.  

As with all the Tahi Festival solos, Run Rabbit’s one-off performance at BATS means word-of-mouth recommendations have to float longer in the collective consciousness. Meanwhile the convocation of solo practitioners, blending shows with showcases, panels and workshops, has had BATS Theatre buzzing all week. Resounding accolades are therefore due to producers Sally Richards and Beth Taylor, their Tahi team and all the participants.
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
*“Names are very important” is a recurring line in this show. When an actor introduces themselves and converses directly with their audience, it feels odd to address them by their family name. That convention fits better when the actor’s onstage presence is entirely in the guise of a fictional character, especially if they are behind a ‘fourth wall’. 


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