Review by Sandra Harman
Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour was 29 and unable to leave his country, having refused mandatory military duty as a conscientious objector. He had no passport to travel so used his isolation to write a wildly original play in English that has subsequently travelled the world in his place giving his words the freedom he didn’t have.
Although billed as a play, WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT is more an audacious theatrical experiment, an absurdist adventure that takes the performer and the audience on a journey into the unknown, as this intensely personal story is told with no director, no rehearsal and an actor performing the script for the first time, sight unseen.
For an actor, this could be their worst nightmare, or a tremendously freeing experience. Their script is found in a sealed envelope on the stage, having only been told what is absolutely necessary only 48 hours earlier. No two shows are the same. Each performer personalises and resonates with different parts of the script and interacts with their audience in a different way. It is a global sensation with a script that no-one is allowed to talk about except secretly between those audiences that have seen it and the performers who have taken part – a sort of theatrical “fight club”
For this Brisbane season, XCollective artistic director, Wayne McPhee has gathered together a stellar cast, and there are not one, but two performers each night. This gives the audience a real chance to see how this theatrical social experiment changes at every performance.
Being in the wonderful position of having performed this piece, and thus being allowed to view subsequent performances I can attest that this is indeed the case, all three interpretations by Sandro Collarelli, Rebecca Riggs & Calum Johnston were completely individual and highly entertaining. It is a testament to the words of the writer and the skill of these performers that I was able to watch more than once and still be thoroughly engaged. The script is surprising, silly in places, partly biographical, and dramatically interesting as it explores a universal social phenomenon with sly humour – it is unlike anything and will make you question everything.
By writing a play that both actors and audiences have no prior knowledge of gives Soleimanpour a powerful voice in the room, you feel that he is there, guiding each performance through his words like a puppet-master. He wants the audience to engage, giving his email address out via the script on the night so that people can send him performance photos and thoughts on the experience, and he requests there is a chair for him in the audience each night just in case he is ever able to attend.
WHIITE RABBIT RED RABBIT plays each Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening until 30th October at the Fate Container Studio, 49 Vulture Street, West End and is a unique evening of theatre with a universal message that should be enjoyed at least once
Show details and the list of performers can be found on the booking website here: https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing/946197