Perth Theatre Company’s final production of the year is a superb conclusion to a knock-out year for the company. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour is a daring and playful theatrical experiment as well as a very human message in a bottle. It’s a conceptual piece that instantly unshackles itself from the burden of being conceptual; so often the artist’s voice is absent or otherwise obscured in conceptual works, but Soleimanpour’s voice is clear, present, and tangible as his actor and the audience become the conduit for his words.
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit also tests the idea of preconceptions; the chosen actors are not to know anything about the script beforehand, so any notion of mental or physical preparation for a solo night on stage in front of nearly two hundred people is thrown out completely. The actor simply cannot know what that will be like, even if they’ve had those horrifying recurring dreams about going on stage without knowing their lines. Without knowing what the script actually holds, there’s simply no way for the performer to conjure an accurate mental picture of what’s to come.
But let’s not waffle on any more about concepts and preconceptions. What is the actual impact of the show on us, the audience? I find myself wondering how to explain it without giving too much away, without spoiling the experiment for anyone who might be reading this and hasn’t yet seen it. How can a reviewer describe this show, comment on its successes and failures, without going into too much detail? How can I convince you, reader, that this experiment is worth participating in without describing what you will be asked to do?
Suffice it to say that this play engages everyone that comes in contact with it. It raises questions, inspires thought and laughter, holds up a mirror, sparks eclectic conversation, asks you to travel to places unknown, calls for action, reverses roles and turns tables. Spectator becomes spectacle, actor becomes author, author becomes director, and everyone becomes co-conspirator.
As for the actor on opening night? Sam Longley handled it with aplomb, humour, sensitivity and he was visibly excited, surprised and filled with wonderment. He was a confident host and friendly, sensitive conduit for Soleimanpour’s words and thoughts.
I heartily recommend, potential conspirators, that you do indeed refrain from learning too much about the play beforehand for the same reason that I will not provide any specific details of its content; going in blind will enrich your experience manifold.
Congratulations to Ms. Cantwell and the entire Perth Theatre Company for a wonderful closing chapter to their 2014 season.
Perth Theatre Company presents
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
by Nasim Soleimanpour
Venue: Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA
Dates: 2 – 13 September
Tickets: $30 – $56
Bookings: 1300 795 012 | www.ticketek.com.au