There are echoes of Jack Thorne’s TV work throughout his 2011 play. Bunny is reminiscent of both Skins and This is England, tough like the latter, messy like the former.
Katie, a superb Anna Russell-Martin, regales the audience with her story through mouthfuls of Haribo. She stands on a large cream rug, which is at once a crash mat and living room carpet.
She’s a typical mass of teenage contradictions: a brilliant student with a gob on her and an older, black “kind of boyfriend”. She both thrives on and fears getting into trouble.
At times the character feels like a working class Lolita, a repository of ripening female flesh drawn from a male writer’s wank bank. She boasts of her teenage sexual prowess, her perfect nipples, and, before long, she almost becomes a sacrificial offering to a gang of Asian lads. This is all recounted in uncomfortably vivid detail.
While there are definite issues in how Katie is presented, Thorne’s handling of the play’s racial tensions is well-judged. Luton, where Katie ends up, could be anywhere in contemporary Britain: a place where kids are both prey and predator.
Paul Brotherston’s direction is intuitive and measured: he draws out Katie’s most gimlet-eyed expressions when she’s confronted, betraying her vulnerability in the process. Iida Aino’s sound design impress too, Katie’s words ricochet around the room as she realises the enormity of the increasingly dangerous situation she is in.
Bunny feels all-too-familiar at times, but it makes for an occasionally lyrical and tense experience.