Anne Rabbitt is an actor, writer, and comedian with over four decades of experience in the industry. As part of Rabbitt & Doon with Smack the Pony‘s Doon Mackichan, she performed alongside the likes of Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard, Jenny Eclair, and Paul Merton. Despite working continuously she hasn’t performed at the Fringe since 1986. We asked her about her new show Self Service, and what previously elusive muse has enticed her back to the festival.
How has the last few years been for you?
A visceral experience of the brevity of life, watching my allotted sand drain through the hourglass of being. On the plus side, I emerged bloody, bold, and resolute.
Can you tell us about Self Service?
If we could book ourselves in for a service in the way we book in our cars, what would that be like? Following the form of all the best owner’s workshop manuals, it’s based on a complete strip-down and rebuild of the Anne Rabbitt 1962 model. It’s funny and physical, metaphysical and moving. All that plus accordion too. As a friend said: it’ll make you laugh and break your heart (though it may have been my accordion playing that did that).
This is your first time performing at the Fringe since 1986. What’s enticed you back after all this time?
To get back out there. To announce, ‘I’m open for business’. And I’m not getting any younger (I refer you to my previous answer.) If not now, when? I’ve learnt the hard way that my mum was wrong when she said, ‘There’ll be another time’. The time is now.
Do you have any abiding memories of what the Fringe was like back then?
Oh, yes. We performed at The Gateway Exchange, Jimmy Boyle’s venue (a venue no more). I’d read his book, A Sense of Freedom ( about how he ended up in prison for murder and how he worked his way out) so was a bit apprehensive. What shocked me most, however, was the champagne drinking; he came across as a charming, gentle man. Another memory that’s stuck is of being woken by the Polish landlady where I was staying, in a box room with a single bed and poster of Kenny Dalglish on the wall, showing a prospective student around: ‘Here is table. Here is wardrobe. Here is bed.’ The lad looked as startled as I was when I pointed out that I didn’t come with the room.
Do you have any hopes or expectations of what this August is going to bring?
Attention – hopefully for the right reasons: good reviews, touring opportunities, to meet and work with other like-minded individuals, to see and be inspired by the myriad other shows on offer. Above all, to have made a show that engages audiences and to enjoy performing it.
Are there any acts we should check out that you think deserve more attention?
I saw PUSH in 2019 at the Vault Festival in London and loved it. I see it’s on at The Pleasance Courtyard – a solo show exploring some similar territory to mine but from the other end of the telescope; a companion piece, you could say (she’d need to see my show to concur…).
Finally, a friend’s daughter is up here with her show, and if my talented friend is anything to go by, this should be great – I’m going – How To Keep Up with the Kardashians @Underbelly, Cowgate.
Self Service runs from Fri 5 Aug to Sat 27 Aug 2022 (except Sun 14 & Sun 21 Aug) at the Space @Surgeons Hall – Theatre 1 @19:15