nick730 (nick730) wrote,

Theatre review: Story of a Rabbit

vanessaw has accompanied me to many a theatre trip in the last year, but the first show we saw together was Hugh Hughes and Hoipolloi's Floating at the Pit, so it seemed apt to return for the follow-up, Story of a Rabbit. "Emerging multimedia performance artist" (his words) Hughes won't be to everyone's taste, but his gentle, chatty style has something incredibly endearing about it. Shaking everyone's hand as the audience enters, he later admits the plan was to make a cup of tea for everyone in the audience but was quickly ditched when it became apparent how much time it would take up. Instead, a couple of audience members were chosen at random to get a cup.

Joined by co-deviser Aled Williams on a variety of musical instruments, Hughes presents a somewhat more melancholy piece about the sudden death of his father in 2001, linking it through flights of fancy to the death of his neighbour's rabbit six years earlier. It manages to avoid being mawkish and finds moving mental imagery in the most surreal of contexts - for some reason I was bordering on tearful during a sequence in which he asks the audience to imagine every molecule of the human body being the size of a potato. Despite Hughes' assurances that his collaborator isn't shy, just very quiet, Williams cuts a timid figure in the corner that nicely balances the main performer's eager-to-please persona.

I'm sure there's plenty of people who'd find Hughes' style twee and annoying, but for me there's a childlike charm to him: He uses an Action Man doll to reenact his father's fall from a ladder after his fatal heart attack, imagined as an elaborate feat of acrobatics; on the way out he once again hands out badges to the audience (this time cheerfully announcing "Here one minute... gone the next") and the programme folds out into a poster of strangers holding hands. In his exploration of intangible themes Hughes can be unfocused, but he covers it up due to his style being so chaotic to start with (some of the darker scenes are interrupted as he deconstructs the techniques he's just used.) Definitely a style all of his own, this strangely involving show is worth a look.

Story of a Rabbit by Hugh Hughes and Aled Williams is booking until the 21st of June at the Pit.
Tags: theatre

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