Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre (finished)
Based on the picture book by John Marsden and Shaun Tan, it seems The Rabbits was intended for the theatre all along. Carefully adapted for stage by director John Sheedy, the hour-long show details the displacement felt by marsupials when a group of rabbits tear their way through the native land, leaving a trail of destruction as they colonise an indigenous community, reflecting the history of Australia.
Extravagant and bold costumes gave new life to the story, and made its characters more relatable, and with Kate Miller-Heidke penning the music, the soundtrack was an interesting blend of pop and opera. Miller-Heidke was also among the cast, playing Bird, and while her costume was by far the most elaborate, it was the diverse and unique features of each of the rabbits and marsupials and their personalities that truly made the show captivating. From humour to heartbreak, it was somehow all delivered in an hour; an hour that was thought-provoking, engaging and, at its core, conveys Marden and Tan’s story and its undertones perfectly. The world premiere of The Rabbits set an exciting new pace for theatre and opera in Australia.