Review: Run Rabbit Run at Harrogate Theatre

Friday 9th September 2022 at Harrogate Theatre.

*Preview performance*

When it comes to Run Rabbit Run, it’s crystal clear that there’s a wealth of talent on stage. In terms of what’s actually going on however, things are less clear, which is certainly engaging and intriguing even if it does leave us with more questions than answers…

This is a modern dance piece from Levantes Dance Theatre, incorporating circus skills, acrobatics and clowning. There is a single line of dialogue to thrust us into the action but from there, it’s up to us to make what we will of what we see. How much belongs in the literal world or to abstract notions is anyone’s guess – rational types favouring clean lines and easy answers might struggle to find their feet here. I’m probably on the fence in this; I’d have liked a little more guidance through the narrative overall but I enjoyed trying to puzzle through some of the details.

A cast of six very talented individuals (Eleni Edipidi, Paolo Pisarra, Jacqueline McCormick, Ivonne Kalter, Jamie Higgins, Ruby Gaskell) provide a whirlwind of motion. Artistic Director Eleni Edipidi gives us some brilliantly off-kilter movement and a fair bit of seemingly unhinged behaviour as this family gather around a table for a birthday celebration. There are nods to various attachments and frictions but also a good dose of humour as fun is poked and the audience are invited in for a few jokes.

Movement is often beautiful though, as in the case of a sequence between male dancers and an impressive display from three performers using a ring trapeze contraption. At other times the cast move in perfect unison, contorting or thrusting their bodies around and thrashing at a table with accosting aggression – and all with deadpan faces; a nice finishing touch to scenes of such frenzied intensity. Visual Director Gopan Iyadurai has created some great work here.

For me, the most effective elements lie with the artful dissonance in play throughout. Costumes (Levantes Dance Theatre and Abby Grewcock) and make-up are eccentric and in a few cases, the stage make-up harks back to the Harlequin type of the commedia dell’arte scene. That jarring movement also creates a sense of the grotesque clown, fitting in nicely with the company’s declaration that their work is inspired by “true crime documentaries” and “our fascination for gruesome stories”. That said, I couldn’t describe exactly how the story presented is gruesome or if indeed a crime was committed!

Ultimately, if you’re a fan of abstract theatre, modern dance or just enjoy an opportunity to mull over what a thousand details might mean, this is one for you. In fact, I’ll pinch the first words of the audience member next to me after the show ended: “But what does it mean? It’s really good though!”

Run Rabbit Run plays at the Lighthouse, Poole on 8th November 2022 – you can find more information and tickets here.

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