Dominic Grace‘s Rabbitskin is a tribute to the power of storytelling to enrich lives. Slightly built Joe (Luke Adamson) takes after his late mother but is able to bond with his father as the latter can spin a good tall tale. Joe adores books but his passion may conceal a growing problem.
The lyrical script by Dominic Grace is a practical demonstration of the evocative effect of storytelling. An act of violence is described as being like’ slowly harmed in a noiseless vacuum.’ But Grace is so committed to his positive theme that he is reluctant to explore the darker corners of his play. Stories may be a welcome diversion from reality but complete immersion can lead to delusional aspects that the script hints at but does not explore fully. The absence of a wider context requires the audience to join the dots between events to make sense of a conclusion that feels arbitrary.
All involved in the production share the author’s positive viewpoint. Director Chris Hill creates a lively atmosphere conjuring up a warm family environment from limited props and the mime skill of the sole performer. Hill opts for a shock ending rather than a gradual investigatory approach. As a result key information is concealed. Without hints from, say, changes in lighting or sound it is hard to be sure that a key scene takes place outside the family home so its significance may be overlooked.
Luke Adamson manages the difficult task of making Joe vulnerable and enthusiastic but not irritating. There is a genuine sense of wonder in his breathless wide-eyed interpretation. But the symptoms of the character’s neurosis are presented in isolation rather than as part of a pattern of emerging psychosis. The twist ending, therefore, feels unconvincing rather than shocking.
Ironically, Rabbitskin is let down by a confused approach to storytelling.