Lost Dog Dance isn’t afraid of Virginia Woolf

Like Rabbits , performed by Ben Duke and Ino Riga, comes to Chichester's Minerva Theatre next Friday.
Like Rabbits , performed by Ben Duke and Ino Riga, comes to Chichester's Minerva Theatre next Friday.

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Tomorrow the Minerva Theatre in Chichester hosts Lost Dog Dance’s production of Like Rabbits.

Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s short story Lappin and Lapinova, the duologue is brought to life by Ino Riga and Ben Duke, who also devised the piece in collaboration with acclaimed playwright Lucy Kirkwood.

In this quietly devastating piece, a man and a woman meet and have sex and fall deeply in love.

Each night the lovers slip away from their real lives into a world that exists only in their shared imagination: a world that belongs to them, in which tax returns and shopping lists and commuting do not exist; a world in which they are not their normal selves, but King of the Rabbits and Queen of the Hares.

But what begins as a game soon becomes a battleground, and the couple hurtle towards a tragedy of the saddest, and most ordinary kind.

Lost Dog artistic director Ben Duke says: ‘I was initially drawn to Lappin and Lapinova because it was a story about a relationship existing in two separate realms at the same time.

‘There is the reality of this couple and then there is their fantastical world.  

‘It felt like it was a story that needed two separate mediums – words and movement – to stage it.  

‘Lucy reduced the story to its essential parts and that meant that we felt we could tell that story in very few words, leaving space for movement to expand and to add flesh to this frame.

‘I am addicted to the problem of combining text and movement.

‘It is resistant to formulas and is endlessly challenging but sometimes it offers the very best kind of theatrical experience.’

Lucy Kirkwood provided the words in the performance. Her play Chimerica won the Evening Standard award for Best Play and the Oliver Award for Best New Play.

Lucy says: ‘I first read Virginia Woolf’s short stories when I was a teenager and Lappin and Lapinova has continued to haunt me since then.

‘For years I kept returning to the idea of adapting it, but could never work out how to achieve it until I started wondering whether it might best be expressed in movement.

‘From my first meeting with Ben he embraced and understood what was intoxicating, true, flinty and tragic about the story.

‘In particular he felt, as I did, that though it was written in the Edwardian era, it is a deeply modern tale.

‘The results of Ben’s work on the story are, to me, exhilarating: the form he has given it is more beautiful than I would have been capable of, and it’s been a deeply pleasurable process to work with him, Ino and Chris on bringing it to the stage.’

Following this performance of Like Rabbits, Ben Duke will also perform a short extract from Lost Dog Dance’s forthcoming production of Paradise Lost, inspired by Milton’s epic poem, for the Chichester audience.

Like Rabbits is at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester on Friday January 16 at 7.45pm. Tickets are £16 and £18 – running time 50 minutes approximately.

To book, visit cft.org.uk or call the Box Office on 01243 781312.