White Rabbit Red Rabbit
6:15pm, Thu 26 Feb 2015
Playwright Nassim Soleimanpour wrote White Rabbit Red Rabbit as a means of virtually travelling outside his native Iran; as a conscientious objector, he was unable to leave the country until recently (and now resides in Germany). Written in 2010, it’s an overtly political piece of theatre which grounds itself in wordy absurdity; it touches on cultural isolation, suicide, and the “choice” of inaction. And, more importantly, it challenges the audience to continue their contemplation after the event.
But whilst the writing is strong (and, despite the light opening, progressively dark), the twist in White Rabbit Red Rabbit is in the presentation: there is no director, no set (just two glasses of water), and a different actor (who has never seen the script before) for each performance. This evening our performer was Dave Bloustien, and – after being handed his script in a sealed envelope, opening it, and reading his stage directions aloud with a nervous chuckle – he measured his performance well: there were few stumbles over the words or timing of the script, and the coolness (with maybe just the faintest hint of apprehension) with which he dealt with the “poison” parts of the script was perfect.
And, once again, I wound up being called onstage – this time as a witness.
Sure, one could make the statement that White Rabbit Red Rabbit is more a play reading, rather than a performance; but it’s the power of the words, and the opportunity to see someone perform the script cold, that makes it such compelling viewing. In fact, just about the only disappointment I could associate with White Rabbit Red Rabbit was that, despite my intentions, I didn’t get to see another performance… I reckon the one with Renato Musolino would have been amazing.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 26, 2015