Morgan Berry: Watership Down
A likeable show about pet bereavement puts the accent on poor taste
This article is from 2015.
Dressed in an African tribal print tunic and with long hippy tresses, Joe Rowntree is in character as Morgan Berry for the duration of Watership Down. Ostensibly a group therapy session for those grieving for dear departed pet rabbits, audience members are called upon to name their ex-bunnies and then led through a series of exercises to cope with that loss.
Rowntree himself proves to be adept at audience interaction, milking punchlines from both the most reticent and over-enthusiastic volunteers. Committing to the character to deliver just the right amount of naffness, he does a good job of pretending to be bad at his job as a bereavement counsellor, which is not an easy feat to achieve and still remain entertaining.
That he declares his character to be African and proceeds to speak in a mimicry of an African language is more problematic. Those who value political correctness will find it offensive and others will be aware of its poor taste. The irritating thing is that it’s not integral to the act and he could have just as easily foregone the racial imitation and avoided a stain on an otherwise likeable show.
Banshee Labyrinth, 226 0000, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), 6pm, free.