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David Porter » Reviews » Exit Napoleon, Pursued by Rabbits

Exit Napoleon, Pursued by Rabbits

Nola Rae at the Playhouse, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 14 February 2005

Exit Napoleon, Pursued by Rabbits

It takes some doing – 75 minutes on stage by a one-woman inventive comic mime artiste with a powerful message.

The international physical theatre specialist enlivened the strange tale of Napoleon Bonaparte and, by extension, other dictators, on a desolate field in a tattered tent with the detritus of life – pots, spoons and a cheese grater providing endless comic opportunities.

She toured a humorous repertoire, punctuated by an inspired soundtrack and effects, like an historic Mr Bean, from pathos to tape stuck to a finger.

From the entrance through the audience, reminiscent of the nightmare crone in David Bowie’s Labrynth, to the end as Hitler orchestrating air raids, she took us on a journey that was an existential as Vladimir’s and Estragon’s, yet as absurdly lunatic as the best clown in a circus.

The audience participation sections were handled beautifully, with that edge of necessary humiliation and the use of real people as a complement to the animation she brought to a great-coat on a hanger with an old satchel for a head – a terrifyingly wordless Napoleon.

The endless succession of dead rabbits found in nooks and crannies of the clever little set were one of many strands in the comic rope with which she wove her spell.

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