Thursday, 13 April 2017
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, April 12, 2017 ***1/2
By Nassim Soleimanpour, presented by Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Aurora Nova
Arts Centre Melbourne, The Pavilion; 12 monthly performances. (Next performance by John Wood on May 6, 2017)
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 12, 2017
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Thurs April 13, 2017 and later in print.
Picture this! You are a well-known actor standing on stage in front of 200 people and you are about to perform a solo show – about which you know absolutely nothing! An Actor’s Nightmare, or an exhilarating, theatrical experience?
Looking both eager and vulnerable, Eddie Perfect opens a large, sealed envelope, withdraws a script and embarks on a ‘cold read’ that is a one-hour performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, an idiosyncratic and challenging play by Iranian writer, Nassim Soleimanpour.
Each month, a different actor will perform Soleimanpour’s experimental piece, but Perfect is the first rabbit in the headlights; a frisson of excitement and trepidation ripples across the audience as he reads his instructions – and ours – from the crisp, new script while he narrates Soleimampour’s disarming story.
I’ll not ruin the experience with spoilers, but suffice to say the performance is often funny, sometimes menacing, always engaging and accessible and it involves some obligatory audience participation.
Soleimanpour addresses us through his ‘dear actor’ who relates a tale about white and red rabbits that crosses borders and languages, making audience members confront their own humanity and consider life, death and freedom.
In a state of cheerful naiveté, Perfect leads us on this emotional and intimate journey that challenges us gently to think about how fortunate we are in our safe country.
The play has travelled the world without its writer who is forbidden to leave Iran, but Soleimanpour seems eerily present throughout the show.
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit will be different every month, and the next actor to take up this unknown script written by a distant writer will be John Wood on May 6, 2017.
By Kate Herbert
Eddie Perfect with audience members