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Review: Rabbits at Park 90, Park Theatre

In his three different roles, Alex Ferns brings a versatile charisma to a production that turns from amusing to ridiculous

04 August, 2017 — By Catherine Usher

David Schaal, left, and Alex Ferns in Rabbits at Park Theatre. PHOTO: David Monteith-Hodge

Alex Ferns is best known for his role as menacing Trevor Morgan in EastEnders, but here he proves he’s not just a scary face, in turns portraying a loose cannon rabbit killer, a put-upon marriage counsellor and a depressed friend.

The contrast between his grinning, mischievous, unpredictable Kevin of the first scene and the softly spoken counsellor Andrew in the second is a highlight, with Ferns displaying both his diversity and an excellent comic delivery. He brings out the best in David Schaal’s Frank too, who is such a malleable character, it’s a wonder he can stand up straight.

The talented Ferns plays three different roles, while Schaal and Karen Ascoe play a couple facing different scenarios. In the first scenario, struggling husband Frank is so weak that it’s farcical, and his wife is so disappointed in him that the relationship would appear terminal.

Writer Joe Hampson seems to want to present a story about people we’ll all find something in common with, but the characters feel far more hysterical and pressurised than your average couple next door.

There were some patrons that laughed uproariously throughout, but for many audience members the laughs aren’t frequent enough. It very much feels like a script still in development – there are flashes of humour but plenty that falls short.

Surely the most important thing when writing a comedy is that the majority of it should be fresh and funny, but this script simply isn’t as witty as it wants to be. It is carried a long way by the strength and obvious experience of the trio of actors.

The moments of subtle humour are the most enjoyable, but all too quickly the conversation turns from amusing to ridiculous, which becomes tedious. The main thing to be gained from the whole episode is that Ferns is a charismatic performer and this production benefits hugely from having him.

UNTIL AUGUST 19
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