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Hare Of The Dog - Ryan Johnson Interview

Author: Darryn King
Tuesday, 18 November 2008

It’s Bella’s 29th birthday, so she is celebrating in style with her friends and ex-lovers – while her father is dying in hospital. 3D’s Darryn King spoke to Ryan Johnson, one fifth of the quintet of successful, acid-tongued, sexually competitive 20-somethings blitzing the stage in Nina Raine’s Rabbit, directed by Brendan Cowell.

Our readers might recognise you as Rocco from Underbelly, or as Tyson from All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane… How often do you get to tread the boards between all your TV and film work-
I’ve only done four plays since I graduated from QUT in ’99. Last year I did Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train with Wayne Blair directing – and that was the one that reinvigorated me. It was such an amazing play and it’d been too long between drinks for me, so it’s great to get back on board… on the boards.

Speaking of drinks, Brendan Cowell’s last play was all about questioning our relationships with booze. But alcohol is really the fuel of this play, isn’t it-
Absolutely. My character Tom gets dropped in the middle of this really intense, diabolical, incredibly well-spoken bunch of people, and the more they drink, the more they unveil, and the grittier and darker and weirder things get between all of them.

Will there be a rehearsal with real alcohol-

Not at the theatre, with occupational health and safety to think about, but a Sunday run in Brendan’s kitchen with a few bottles of merlot and a couple of chardonnays may be on the cards.

A couple of reviews from the London and New York performances compared the play to Friends – is that a bit unfair-

I think one of the things that worked with Friends is that you were accustomed to the characters and knew how they would react in a situation. If there’s one similarity, it’s that the characters are all beautifully defined, and that no one has the same rhythm. Having said that, I think there’s a greater level of depth to it than in a 30-minute episode of Friends.

Are there also similarities to All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, which was also about 20-somethings working out how to go forward-
Definitely, yeah. In Brisbane you had a young female lawyer who has this fantastic guy but can’t seem to find herself. Bella in Rabbit has a job in PR, she’s earning great money, she’s got two fantastic guys who are both gunning for her – but there’s something in her that just can’t rest. I think with her it’s more of a father issue though: a story about dads and daughters.

I read that the working title was ‘Sex and Death’…
Ha. That’s a bit more of a macabre title. I didn’t know that – but in a way it fits. It’s that thing that people say, that people get horny or weird at a funeral – there’s definitely a bit of that going on.

The only line from the play I could find was, “You know, he had one of those really thick cocks…”
Ha, that’s my character. I feel like I’ve got something to live up to.

WHAT: Rabbit
WHERE: Wharf2, Sydney Theatre
WHEN: Saturday 22 November – Sun 11 January 2009
MORE: sydneytheatre.com.au

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