“Mental health is a really difficult issue.” It’s a line you hear a lot in Original Death Rabbit. It’s the one you take home with you. And not only because it’s delivered by a vodka-swigging woman in a bunny onesie.
Rose Heiney’s play, which started life on BBC Radio 4, is getting its stage premiere at Jermyn Street Theatre, the perfect venue for such an intimate monologue about a woman’s struggle with internet fame and social media addiction.
Kimberley Nixon plays the Original Death Rabbit of the title. She’s instantly likeable in her stained pink onesie (with ears) as she tells her webcam the story of how she became a meme. For 90 minutes the theatre audience become her thousands of anonymous online followers.
It’s sad, funny, tragic – and not necessarily in that order. The onesie, we learn, was given to her as an ironic present after she wrote a 5,000 word university paper lambasting Playboy bunnies.
Nixon is brilliant, gliding expertly from jokes about Richard Curtis films into much darker territory. Her excitement is tangible as she talks about joining Twitter and “feels godlike” as she quickly attracts followers. She becomes “wired on approval”. The flashes of anger and pain, when they emerge, feel real.
Louie Whitemore’s set is wonderfully detailed messy flat, complete with movie posters, books and assorted vodka bottles. Nixon uses it to the full. One patch of wall even doubles as a laptop screen.
The day after press night I was passing a pub and noticed a poster in the window advertising a “Onesie Party”. The picture showed a woman in a pink bunny outfit.
My advice: don’t go to that, hop along to this instead.
Original Death Rabbit is at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London until 9 February