Theater / Film

Review: LakehouseRanch jumps into the horror genre with ‘rabbit’

Written By Christine Dolen
November 16, 2023 at 6:57 PM

Samuel Krogh as kade and Maleeha Nasser’s wren in the world premiere of Riley Elton McCarthy’s “rabbit,” a LakehouseRanchDotPNG production in Kendall. The show runs through Sunday, Nov. 19 (Photo courtesy of Juan Gamero)

Riley Elton McCarthy is a New York-based playwright whose instructions at the top of the script for the world premiere play “rabbit” are uncommonly detailed regarding gender, casting, the need for leaning into the queerness and violence of the piece.

The playwright uses the pronouns they/them, as do the characters in “rabbit,” so we’ll conform to that in writing about the LakehouseRanchDotPNG production. The play’s title and character names aren’t capitalized, so we’ll do likewise. Note that “rabbit” has just a two-weekend run, which translates into three remaining performances in the small second floor Artistic Vibes space in Kendall: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19.  Hop to it and make plans if this one sounds intriguing.

Mairi Chanel’s cyprus is lost in thought and fear in the in the LakehouseRanch world premiere of “Riley Elton McCarthy’s “rabbit.” (Photo courtesy of Juan Gamero)

The third world premiere in LakehouseRanch’s second season of presenting absurdist and experimental work, “rabbit” is a horror play with plenty of room for individual interpretation.

The characters in the play’s wolf pack could be runaway kids and teens, wolves, even rabbits who hunt their own.  Whoever they are, they have plenty in common with the boys in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” as they have created a new and violent society led by an alpha wolf called kade (Samuel Krogh, who plays the character with an entirely appropriate rock star attitude).

Established by a now-absent founder the members call “the little one,” the pack lives in the woods, never leaving, though most have hazy memories of families or home or something that came before.

Charisma Jolly’s briar turns violent with Abby Wolf’s finch in the world premiere of Riley Elton McCarthy’s “rabbit.” (Photo courtesy of Juan Gamero)

To survive, they hunt rabbits, which the eccentric sage turns into the filling for handpies. Sometimes, though, a predator becomes the prey.

In addition to sage and kade, the ultimate authority with a distinct appetite for domination and cruelty, the others are briar (Charisma Jolly), who seems to be kade’s mean-and-nasty acolyte; wren (Maleeha Naseer), who trains the new arrivals to become hunters; gale  (Alex Camacho), who looks truly frightening as they lick their chops; finch, described by the playwright as “a realist;” and cyprus, a frightened type who strums a ukelele as they try (and fail) to remember the lyrics to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Into this established order comes a force who will eventually change everything. After henri (Emily Valdes, strikingly mysterious) gets caught in one of the pack’s concealed bear traps, they’re taken in by the group, lusted after by some, made a target by others.

Emily Valdes as henri sits in shock after a killing in Riley Elton McCarthy’s “rabbit.” (Photo courtesy of Juan Gamero)

LakehouseRanch artistic director Brandon Urrutia, his design team (set by Indy Sullerio, sound by actor Naseer, costumes by Lucy Marie Lopez, props by Rachel Gil de Gibaja and actors Naseer and Chanel, lighting by Urrutia himself) and the performers keep the play’s unsettling, unnerving, at times horrifying and bloody vibe going throughout.

The kind of light you might imagine in a forest washes over a space plastered with child-like drawings of rabbits, an ornate cross marking the spot where “the little one” departed, and a tree that sometimes serves as a gallows. Creepy.

Samuel Krogh’s kade plots his next move in the LakehouseRanchDotPNG world premiere of “rabbit” at Artistic Vibes in Kendall. (Photo courtesy of Juan Gamero)

The Artistic Vibes black box space is tiny, with just two rows of folding chairs along each of two walls.  If the actors point prop “guns” (actually cap guns/rifles) in your direction or the chase after prey comes tumbling into the space beside you, you will jump.

The young theater artists of LakehouseRanchDotPNG are attracting audiences hungry for shows that aren’t the same old same old.  Some of which, like “rabbit,” may just startle the bejesus out of them.

WHAT: World premiere of “rabbit” by Riley Elton McCarthy

WHERE: LakehouseRanchDotPNG production at Artistic Vibes, 8846 SW 129th Terrace, Suite B (second floor), Miami

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 19

COST:  $20 (discounts for students and artists)

INFORMATION: (786) 427-4721 or Lakehouseranch-png

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com. 

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