Dear Nassim Soleimanpour,
It was a pleasure to meet you last night via your inventive theatrical experience, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. I did as you asked and refrained from reading reviews prior to seeing your play. I also avoided reading a detailed synopsis. I knew the barest detail of the concept: a play by an Iranian writer prohibited from leaving his home country because of his political beliefs; no director; a different actor each night; the actor does not see the script until he/she opens the envelope containing it as the performance commences.
Who could not find all of this intriguing?
You'll be happy to know, Nassim, that the performer on this opening night at The Arts Centre in Melbourne, April 2017, was the talented Eddie Perfect, and he did a splendid job. He appeared to enjoy the experience, and the audience enjoyed this enjoyment. There were many, many laughs. Eddie Perfect generally leans towards comedy but likes a bit of social commentary in his work. This might explain why he enjoyed this experience so much, because as well as some absurdist comedy, your play has a lot to say. With White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, you convey some very important messages, deftly coupling humour with seriousness. I hope someone has sent you some photos of Eddie (and indeed some of the audience members who found themselves on stage as part of the performance) in action during the show. Oh and very good of you to allow us to leave our phones on and encourage us to take photos during the show – just one of the many surprising elements of your experiment.
The set design was minimal. Just a couple of household items and some things borrowed from the audience. This is all that's needed, because really, the magic is in the writing and the concept of the work.
The big irony, Mr Soleimanpour, is that while your show has a lot to say, I'm guessing that even in a review, you would like the writer to refrain from saying too much about the show itself. This is a big ask, but I will respect your wishes post-show as much as I did pre-show.
I would like you to know that everyone in the room thoroughly enjoyed this piece. You would have enjoyed it. You would have enjoyed our enjoyment. And strangely, in spite of your absence, you actually felt very present. Your humour, your wit, your deep understanding of how society and systems and individuals work... all of this was palpable, and you may as well have been sitting in that chair kept vacant for you. I don't think I was alone in feeling that I met you last night. It was a real pleasure to have met someone with such a sharp sense of humour, with such deft story-telling ability... oh yeah, another thing: I was aware of the experimental nature of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit and thus wondered if I would find it satisfying. I wondered if it might be a bit gimmicky for someone who goes to the theatre to be told a cracking good story. I needn't have worried. I found this a deeply rich and satisfying theatrical experience indeed.
So there you have it. I'm pleased to have met you, even though we've never met. I'm grateful that you have shared some of yourself with us. The memory of your play feels real and important, like the memory of a friend.
Wishing you all the best, friend,
Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Aurora Nova presents
White Rabbit Red Rabbit
by Nassim Soleimanpour
Venue: The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne
Date: 13 April 2017