White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

The latest offering at the Contact Theatre is ‘White Rabbit, Red Rabbit’ which is playing over two nights with a different actor each night.  In fact every performance of this play has featured a different actor.

Shobna Gulati stands on stage with an envelope in her hand.  In the envelope is the script she will use for the performance.  She has never seen the script before.  I’m sure she has never seen the play before.  The script is the text of ‘White Rabbit, Red Rabbit’, and is the story of Nassim Soleimanpour, 29,  who has refused to take part in military service in his native Iran and is now forbidden to leave his country.  The stage is bare except for two glasses, a vial of white powder, and a set of stepladders.  There is nobody to ‘direct’ Shobna except herself.

It’s an interesting concept.  Shobna must react to whatever she reads in the script.  For an actor this must be both exciting and scary.  Things happen that may or may not involve the audience.  The story moves on.  It feels part scripted, part devised theatre.  The symbolism is rich.  It is different from anything I have ever seen.

Does it work?  The idea is certainly original.  A lot of the ‘theatre’ is effective.  The underlying message is strong.  But there are flaws within the script and at times it is easy to disconnect from the performance.  I suspect we will see other theatre makers taking this idea and developing it further.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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