Absolut Fringe 2012: White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

I went along to this lunchtime show because I was intrigued by the premise – an actor arrives on stage, opens an envelope and reads from a script that they’ve never seen before. It’s an interesting idea and the Fringe had a list of interesting actors that were taking part. However White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is more than just an interesting acting exercise. The script uses the actor as a way for the writer to connect with the audience. The play was written by Nassim Soleimanpour, an Iranian citizen who had never left his country. He was 29 when he wrote the play and had never left Iran because in order to get a passport, citizens must do two years of military service. The play was his way to travel and experience the world outside Iran. He gives out his e-mail address a couple of times in the script with requests to send him photos and reports of the performance.

It is a play about choice and responsibility. It’s also about rabbits. It’s a play that asks a lot of the actor performing it but there’s also a lot of audience participation. As the actor and audience changes everyday, I imagine the show is very different each time it’s performed. This may have made it a difficult for the Fringe Awards judges – it was nominated for Best Production.

I was there on the opening afternoon and our actor for the day was Stephen Rea. He performed with a slight knowing smile at the audience which said ‘these are not my words’, especially when the words in question were expressions like “super cool” or “groovy”. He took the comedy and the seriousness of the script in his stride. The audience seems a little bit more nervous than he did. I often think that Irish audiences aren’t very good at participating in a piece of theatre, and I include myself in that. We don’t have any sort of tradition of it in this country. We are not generally disruptive people. In these sort of situations, I find myself wanting to be a “good audience member” but not always sure what was required of me.

I really enjoyed the play. It threw up a lot of questions about the world and was about more than just the art that was taking place in that room. I would have liked to see it again, for lots of reasons. I wish I’d spoken up more in the performance.

You can read about Peter Daly’s description of the performance from the actor’s point of view in the Irish Times Festival Hub.

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