The Year Of The Hare
3 stars ****
Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)
THE PARTNERSHIP between the Helsinki-based Rhymateatteri and a group of Scottish artists led by playwright Catherine Grosvenor is now well-established feature of the Fringe; and this year’s offering, written by Grosvenor from an original text by Esa Leskinen, Sami Keski-Vahala and Kristian Smeds, has plenty of charm, as well an appealing 21st century theme.
Its hero, played with some flair by David McKay, is an ordinary, middle-aged middle-manager working under huge pressure, in his job with a big global timber company. One day, though, after a moment of rebellious madness at an awayday management workshop, he finds himself driving recklessly north, into a strange encounter with a lovely human hare who is injured when he drives his car off the road; and from there on, this play-with-songs veers into the surreal and the symbolic, as our hero and the hare plunge back towards the wilderness, in search of new life, and new joy.
In the end, the tone of Aleksis Meaney’s production is a touch too playful to capture all the serious resonances of this 21st century journey; for all their surreal adventures, the human characters in this play are adults, and their story amounts to more than an extended joke with lyrical interludes. The quality of the writing is fascinating, though, and there are some fine video images by Ville Salmisalo and Ville Vierikko, suggesting the changing relationship with nature implicit the story; and if this staging has a slightly provisional look, it’s not difficult to imagine the play returning to haunt and delight us, in future productions.