Enigmatic theatre phenomenon hits Melbourne: the less you know, the better…
By Amy Planner
Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Aurora Nova presents White Rabbit Red Rabbit, an unforgettable social experiment disguised as a play. An entirely enveloping performance, this show takes so many turns and goes to such interesting places: most of which are completely unexpected.
Nassim Soleimanpour penned the now-famous script whilst trapped in his native country of Iran. Devoid of any escape options, Soleimanpour devised a piece that would do the escaping for him and confront the rest of the world in his place.
Eddie Perfect was the first performer to take the stage in this twelve-part Melbourne series (the play will be performed 12 times by 12 different actors). Perfect knew nothing of the script until he was escorted to the stage with only a vial in his pocket, and was handed a sealed envelope.
With a raised eyebrow Perfect gazed at the script inside, and decided – why not? The idea of the cold reading is not a new concept, but also not all that common. So the performer and many audience members were stunned to say the least. Minimalistic is the aim of this play. It relies on the intrigue of the audience and the willingness of the performer. Perfect took it on the chin and was true to the script and honest in his portrayal.
A subtle lighting homage to the White Rabbit Red Rabbit theme, a chair, a table, two glasses of water, a spoon and a ladder are all the actor is given. Each of these elements play a role in this instruction-based performance whilst the actor and audience are guided by Soleimanpour’s words and thoughts.
White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a titillating piece of art, full of theatrical innovation, uncomfortable laughter, genuine thoughts of mistrust and amusing anecdotes that speak to a world much bigger and more complex than we could ever imagine.
This play is an experience. It is the sort of experience that you need to be immersed in and be fairly unprepared for to be fully absorbed by the words, by the unusual circumstance and by the bigger picture. This show should be seen with as little knowledge about its subject matter as possible and as such I have refrained from divulging many details in this review. But that isn’t to say that it isn’t a truly gripping sixty minutes of modern theatre. Go down the rabbit hole – you just have to.
Venue: The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne (Venue to change for other performances)
Next Performance: Featuring John Wood, Saturday May 6, 7pm
Tickets: Standard $45, Concession $40