There's no doubting we're in the theatre for Victoria Abbott's Run Rabbit, an impressive one-woman show which plays with style and form to deliver a hard-hitting message about life under siege conditions.
Abbott bounces on to the stage and immediately engages with the audience, introducing the show, the venue and herself — along with different iterations of that self — leaving us clear we're having a theatrical experience.
The introduction includes referencing other performances in the Basement Studio along with other performers she's worked with; it risks sounding like an in-joke which could irk those who have no idea who or what she's talking about. It might lose audience members who want a straightforward narrative and who are not familiar with theatrical devices, like deliberately trampling all over the "fourth wall" which is meant to separate performers from audiences.
After this introduction, Abbott changes gear, starting the story of her kick-ass ancestor Black Agnes, who held off an English army sent to (try to) take over Dunbar Castle in 1338.
A feisty and totally committed performer, Abbott gives us the potted highlights of that five-month, ultimately unsuccessful, siege: Black Agnes' supposed retorts, survival strategies and, possibly, private thoughts.
The events of the past are curiously contrasted with Abbott switching time periods — helped by sound and lighting effects — to play a rabbit, a toxic male pressuring for a date and, of course, versions of Victoria Abbott.
It could be about the walls we put up or the walls we, sometimes necessarily hide behind but, until the last vital minutes, you're never sure where, exactly, all this is heading.
And then Abbott brings it all together, playing with language and showing what the point to the whole exercise has been.
She has a fierce and provocative message to convey and, when she does, drawing all the disparate threads of Run Rabbit together, it hits you like a brick falling from a wall.
This performance, replete with ideas, will stay with you for a long time.
What: Run Rabbit
Where & when: Basement Studio, until Saturday, August 4
Reviewed by: Dionne Christian