Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Sunday 26 October 2008

The Truth's Out Of The Hat: There's No Magic In 'What All The Rabbits Are Doing'

Deep in the heart of Hove's Brunswick area there is a small but vibrant venue, The New Venture Theatre.
Good Cast, God-Awful Production @ New Venture Theatre

To enter you walk through a small red doorway, past the ticket office and into the bar.

To the strains of "Ma Vie En Rose" the bar opens up, it is huge, truly huge, and has some kind of is-now-cool 1970's kiosk shaped wooden bar that sits dwarfed by the dimensions of the room.

All complete with period clock. It is a huge white space punctuated by production photographs and an eclectic mixture of chairs and tables.

What could be a kind of awful Regency minimalist fusion is gently mocked by both the bar and the furniture.

The staff are fine, and their Jack Daniels is only £1.80 a shot, so things are going well, so far.

As curtain-up nears, a modest spattering of couples aged anything from 20-50 years old drift in, the interested-in-theatre Independent reading office types mix with die hard goatee-boys in brown cord jackets and soft green scarves (It's not even that cold).

At this point a man with a gun and handcuffs enters the room, looks around, and walks out.

Slightly anxious I check my whiskey to make sure it has not been spiked but no, thankfully, he is part of the cast.

Polite and friendly staff call us into the Theatre, a reasonable sized room, painted black with good raised seating.

Unfortunately, at that time, the play "What All The Rabbits Are Doing" by Sabotage Theatre began.

I do not know what all the rabbits were doing that evening (eating carrots, having sex, being shot at by angry farmers?) but I bet they were having a much better time than I was.

If you want a recipe for of piss-poor theatre then it goes like this.


*Always have nudity, lots of it, (esp. young females) but of course be ready to decry anyone who accuses you of exhibitionism.

*Always have lots of shouting and angry faces that slowly fade to mock-sad poses. (The brilliant BADAC Theatre in London is the one exception to this rule).

*Always have lots of gunshots, preferably more than two.

*Pretend to 'deal' with difficult issues (in this case, rape) but do so in such a ham-fisted manner that you end up using the subject for your own ends rather than tackling it. There is a difference, a huge gaping difference.

*Have few extra people running around in silly costumes, with umbrellas for rifles of course, being "weird' for good measure

*Lots of lines that sound profound but are actually very silly.

*Make the text so confusing that people think it must be good because they do not really understand it, and are too afraid to admit it to their friends.

*Add some poor copies of Pinter-esque lines/moments in for good measure.

*Give it a really silly title.

*This play has just about all of these.


The acting talents of Chloe Thorpe and Elena Saorin were a real highlight in this production, but even their talent, keen sense of timing, and an obvious talent for the comedic could not save this appalling production.

The play was written (badly) by Zoë Hinks (the nude model) and directed (badly) by her and Rhys Lawton (the prisoner), neither of whom impressed me at all.

These were so many scene changes it caused a draft.

It may well be deemed by some as good enough for an internal student project, but out in the real world it does not cut the mustard, full stop.

People are paying good money and they should expect a lot better than this.

I could attempt to relate to you what this play was about but you have better things to do with your life, and so do I.

This is the kind of production that puts people off independent theatre for good and enforces all the kinds of annoying clichés that truly good productions are always so keen to avoid.

In fact, for only the fifth time in 8 years, and over 250 plays seen in that time, I actually walked out during the interval.

I just no longer cared what happened. I am sure the New Venture Theatre. can, and does, do much better than this usually.

This nonsense is running until god knows when; avoid it at all costs, whatever you do, because it is truly awful.

by: Howard Young (Theatre Editor)




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Credit Tom Woollard

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