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White Rabbit, Red Rabbit @ Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA

2/9/14

By Samuel J. Cox

Introduced by Melissa Cantwell, the Artistic Director and CEO of the Perth Theatre Company, this non-traditional thought experiment by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour (1981-) is an uncomfortable and unusual viewing experience. Ostensibly about the playwright’s uncle training rabbits in a cage, and a rabbit’s trip to an animal circus, the brooding, sixty-minute monologue is heavy thought fodder.

Concluding the Perth Theatre Company’s 2014 season, the director-less work is not a visual spectacle, operating with a small set (composed of a ladder, a table, with two glasses of water on it, and a chair) and requiring little of the actor beyond pacing the stage.

With a different performer every night, and a changing audience whose participation is a key component, each performance will be a different experience. A daring premise that emphasises the immediacy of the theatre, the actor receives the work for the first time as they step on stage, and shares the experience of discovering the script with the audience. An interesting exercise and experience, the high-minded, metaphorical discussion could easily falter. Actor Sam Longley (creator of the improv comedy show The Big Hoo-Haa!) was relaxed and comedic as he successfully navigated this stressful acting endeavour, but kept his energy high so that the performance was entertaining and the audience engaged. He flagged towards the end, but it was a courageous effort. Rather than playing a character, Longley followed the playwright’s instructions and facilitated his vision.

Canadian ‘Life-Coach’ Robin Sharma, who exhorts the benefits of joining his 5AM Club, requires one to learn something new every day. ‘WR,RR’ is most reflective when Soleimanpour claims that life is the ultimate form of suicide. When a person luckily escapes the possible negative consequences of taking a small risk, life is training, goading them into taking more and more significant risks, until one day that luck runs out and the risk is a fateful mistake. It was worth it just to hear that truth equivocated.

 

‘White Rabbit, Red Rabbit’ runs until September 13.

Tues 2 September – Sam Longley
Wed 3 September – Alicia Osyka
Thurs 4 September – Hayley McElhinney

Fri 5 September – Kyle Morrison
Sat 6 September – Greens Senator Scott Ludlam

Tues 9 September – Alison Van Reeken

Wed 10 September – Sean Walsh
Thurs 11 September – Monica Main
Fri 12 September – Kymba Cahill
Sat 13 September – Mark Storen 

 

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