Theatre Review: White Rabbit Red Rabbit
By Nassim Soleimanpour
Loft at Q Theatre, July 1, 2013.
I’m tempted to cheat and say this play is unreviewable. Then tell you that you absolutely must go and leave it at that. To say much more would be to ruin a play that served up my most enjoyable and powerful night at the theatre in a long, long time.
White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a work of expertly crafted surprise. No director. No clever staging. No whizzy lighting. The actor doesn’t even know what they are doing. There is (kindly) audience participation but you never feel that terror of being at the mercy of an improvised potential trainwreck. Playwright Nassim Soleimanpour uses theatre to tackle big issues with aplomb. Soleimanpour was 29 when he wrote the play, stuck in his home country Iran without a passport because he refused to do military service. This is his way of reaching out to the world and his voice resonates strongly and intimately with his audience.
Each night there is a different actor. Each night they are given the script on stage, in a sealed envelope. They have never seen the script prior to ripping open that envelope. So the actor starts reading words on the sheaf of paper and the play begins. The season kicked off with Stephen Lovatt. Go and you may encounter Mia Blake, or Kip Chapman or Dai Henwood or Natalie Medlock or Pua Magasiva. That, too, is a surprise.
Lovatt did an assured job. But that’s neither here nor there as he’ll never be doing it again. There was a strikingly raw moment where Lovatt was overcome by the emotion of the script – a chink where the power of live theatre and its ability to connect across fractured time, culture and circumstance burst through unabated. That moment won’t appear again, but undoubtedly others like it will. Just go.
Until July 13.
Photographed by Jessie Casson, with thanks to Auckland Zoo.