Public Bunnies (Op.3 in c# minor)
Season Nov 25 – Dec 12 | Wednesday – Saturday
Public Bunnies is a devised work created by the imPACT ensemble with director Michael Imielski. The performance takes the form of two extended physical theatre sequences, bookending a free-form ramble through a series of interactive installations.
Upon entering the black-box PACT theatre from the street, we took our seats and watched the performers (mostly passed-out) strip one another down to their underwear to a throbbing bass drone (also composed by Imielski). After a long time, the lights dim and the bodies spasm their way to life. Over 25 minutes, they form a writhing mass of bodies, occasionally spitting out and reabsorbing individuals, which oozes around the space and flows over three upright pianos set in the space. These images are roughly mirrored in the final third of the play, concluding with the deconstruction and removal of the piano.
The central section of the play takes the audience outside to explore the ramshackle village constructed from detritus and populated by an array of charming vagrants. The audience was skilfully divided into small groups and engaged in a range of micro-performances and interactive tasks. I had my fortune read, earned a token to see a three-minute peep-show involving a badminton racket, was dressed in ridiculous clothes, blessed by a priest, ordered to hang underwear on a clothesline and given a safety demonstration at a mine.
With several exceptions, the complex etiquette around interactive performance was well negotiated and the short segments were varied and well executed. Over time, the seemingly arbitrary installations began to take shape as individual components of a functioning city (with an economy based on trading underwear), but this was frustratingly incomplete. I was left with the sense that the performers knew exactly how it all fit together, but the audience was never given the opportunity to discover it. Still, this was easily my favourite part of the play: the countless little adventures and tasks made exploring an ongoing pleasure.
While Public Bunnies‘ discrete sections never quite cohered into a unified piece, I was nevertheless captivated by the continual stream of images and ideas across the entire evening.