Bunny Boiler is an hour-long one-woman show from actress-comedian Rachel Jackson consisting of anecdotes about Jackson’s many relationships and her search for the one…or as she puts it, one of the ones. Despite her references to her obsessive tendencies of following her estranged boyfriends a la Glenn Close, Jackson’s stories portray her in a more sympathetic light as someone who has been let down by some unpleasant characters as much as someone who has psychological issues. This provides a different perspective to the usual media stereotype of the “crazy ex” as popularised by films such as Fatal Attraction.
However, this doesn’t mean that Jackson’s show is mostly serious. There are plenty of laughs to be had from her tales. Particular examples being her medieval-style role play during sex, which involves Jackson adopting an hilariously anachronistic American accent, and her relationship with a UKIP supporter proving that sex and Nigel Farage are a bad combination. However, the darker aspects of Jackson’s show are the more distinctive, with her account of a cold, verbally abusive relationship with a “posh boy” she met whilst acting in Cornwall; and her previous four-year relationship with a controlling man she calls “the cult leader” standing out the most. Jackson only briefly describes the physically abusive and manipulative nature of the latter relationship, with one particular incident involving a drinks can proving particularly harrowing.
As a performer, Jackson is an energetic and charismatic presence who is able to demonstrate her acting skills to the fullest extent to keep the audience engaged with what at times can be difficult material. She especially developed a rapport with a particular audience member, inviting him on stage to demonstrate a proper handshake technique. Her rapping skills are also surprisingly good, opening the show with her rendition of Eminem’s Stan and later providing her own rap to her current boyfriend, who she names “Ollie”, that comes across as genuine and not an example of an embarrassing musical moment that falls flat.
The only criticisms of Jackson would be that her fast-paced delivery is a little too rushed at times, resulting in punchlines and jokes losing their intended impact as they aren’t noticed by the audience; and the climax of her show involving a phone call from “Ollie” appears overly staged, slightly detracting from the apparent authenticity of the rest of her stories.
Despite these issues, Bunny Boiler is a funny yet insightful look at relationships that marks Jackson out as a talented actress, as well as a comedian who can skilfully combine comedy with drama.