Tuesday, 23 July 2013

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, July 23, 2013 ***1/2

Written by Nassim Soleimanpour, by Malthouse Theatre 
Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, July 23 to Aug 3, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: ***1/3
Review also published  in Herald Sun online on July 24, 2013 and later in print. KH

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit may well be the proverbial Actor’s Nightmare come true in which an actor must perform a play that she has never read and about which she knows nothing – I mean, nothing at all!

The element of risk is high for the actor, and this both titillates and terrifies the audience during the performance of Iranian writer, Nassim Soleimanpour’s bold, experimental play.

Catherine McClements is the first actor to play the role (every night the script is read by a different actor) and a slight tremor of excitement and trepidation travels from her to the audience as she reads Soleimanpour’s instructions and narration.

I must not reveal the content because it will ruin it for viewers and actors alike but, from the moment McClements opens the sealed envelope containing the script, the piece is engaging and accessible, often funny, sometimes menacing and involves some gentle audience participation.

Soleimanpour’s voice is clearly heard as he addresses us through his “dear actor”, telling the story – or parable – about white and red rabbits that resonates with all nationalities and makes us confront our own humanity and consider life, death and liberty.

He tells tales of his family, his life in Iran and how he wrote this play to travel around the world in his place because he cannot leave Iran.

McClements deftly takes us with her on this journey of discovery that teaches us about the writer, his world and a little about ourselves.

This performance has heart and challenges the audience ever so gently to think about our choices and how lucky we are in this safe and relaxed country – however much we complain about our lives.

The show will be different every night, but it was a joy to witness a fine actor such as McClements struggle and overcome the obstacles visited upon her by an unknown script written by a distant writer.

By Kate Herbert

Project Curator: Janice Mueller

Performers include: Rodney Afif, Alison Bell, Shareena Clanton, Ming-Zhu Hii, Bert LaBonté, John Leary, Caroline Lee, Brian Lipson, Genevieve Morris, Brian Nankervis, Sam Pang, Meredith Penman & Greg Stone 

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