By Fat Rascal Theatre
Friday 28th July, York Theatre Royal
This review is quite overdue, and the main reason for that is because I’m genuinely concerned that I won’t be able to do this production justice with my ‘lil old words. So, here’s the main thing you need to know: this production was the best I’ve seen all year (and one of the best I’ve ever seen), and you should go see it as soon as possible.
All I knew about TABSTW when we stepped into the studio was that there were zombies and folk tunes involved, and to be fair both those things played a pretty important role in the production. The story follows a bolshie hippie (Bunny) and a much less bolshie, anorak-wearing young man (Tom) as they form an unlikely partnership to survive the zombie apocalypse and make the treacherous journey up to Yorkshire (because where the hell else would you go in a zombie apocalypse?!). Along the way they meet some characters, make some friends, form a rag-tag group of survivors and, you guessed it…save the world.
The production kicked off with a bang (literally) and the energy barely dropped throughout the whole thing. It was an ensemble performance with music mainly provided by Johnny Holbek on guitar and let me tell you, it was tight. Like, TOIGHT. The songs were catchy and funny and folky and performed with the tightest harmonies and the most beautiful voices. Each cast member had a solo moment and every one was stunning. The music blended seamlessly into the production and took it to a whole new level of brilliance.
Robyn Grant has written a brilliant piece in Tom and Bunny; the dialogue was genuinely hilarious, the characters subvert gender expectations in the most delicious and fun ways, and the story is engaging and perfectly paced. Cat Robey’s direction and of course the cast’s performances only elevated these elements, bringing out the humour for dozens of genuine laugh-out-loud moments and spot-on choreography that kept the play from ever feeling stilted or stuck. Scene transitions, costume changes and the innovative use of props felt seamless and natural, which is impressive considering the set mainly consisted of a couple of small freestanding backdrop panels and some boxes.
Usually I like to pick out the stand-out performances, but I can’t really single anyone out of this cast as they were all fantastic. Robyn Grant played the feisty Bunny with spirit and excellent comedic timing, Jamie Mawson nailed the nerdy and unassuming Tom. Johnny Holbek, Luke Dunford, Rosie Raven (incredible name) and Allie Munro (Mike, Gareth, Kai and Pearl respectively) all excelled as supporting cast at first and then each came into their own when their main characters were introduced, telling their stories with humour and heart in equal measure.
I realise by this point I’m gushing, but I simply couldn’t fault this production. I was gutted we couldn’t catch Fat Rascal’s other production, Buzz: A New Musical, the next night, as I have no doubt it would have been equally wonderful (and it’s about sex toys, so, uh, yes please). The good news for anyone reading this is that both productions are currently on at the Edinburgh Fringe until 28th August – Tom and Bunny Save the World is at the Assembly George Square Theatre, and Buzz: A New Musical at the Pleasance Courtyard. I cannot urge anyone lucky enough to be spending a few days at the festival to go and see Fat Rascal. Go, and go now. Book your tickets. Here. You won’t regret it.
Summary: An hour of laughs, folk tunes and Yorkshire love performed by a cast with bundles of energy and even more talent. A company to watch for sure. 10/10!