Absolut Fringe 2012: WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT

Nassim Soleimanpour's WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT as part of ABSOLUT Fringe

Nassim Soleimanpour's WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT as part of ABSOLUT Fringe

The opportunity to see Stephen Rea ponder ending his own life via drinking a poisoned glass of water is not typical afternoon theatre faire in Dublin, and the fact that this situation is created by an Iranian playwright not allowed to leave his own country only contributed to the extraordinarily surreal atmosphere behind White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.

Its simple structure is shaped by oppression: writer Nassim Soleimanpour is forbidden to travel outside his home country and has thus supplied a sealed script for a random actor to perform, as well as a few simple set requirements (a ladder, a chair, a small table, water, poison). There are no rehearsals or memorised lines. The day I attended, the audience were treated to the magisterial presence of Rea, who brought a mixture of gravitas and bemusement to the array of tasks the script posed of him, most notably as a cheetah pretending to be an ostrich.

Soleimanpour also involves the audience in the acting out of various allegorical situations that tease out much darker political realities. Allowing for the random sprinkling in of dated Western words like ‘groovy’, death is central preoccupation for Soleimanpour here, as he creates a theatrical version of Russian roulette for his unwitting actor.  If the playwright must remain in Iran, it is empowering to witness his imagination brought to life in exile.

Star Rating: ★★★★

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Absolut Fringe 2012: WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT by Nassim Soleimanpour

11-15 & 18-22 Sept 2012

Produced by Nassim Soleimanpour
In The New Theatre

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit performers include actors Stephen Rea, Olwen Fouéré, Peter Daly, Natalie Radmall Quirke, Shane Byrne, Ciaran O’Brien,  Gina Moxley, Hilary O’Shaughnessy, Amy Conroy and  comedienne Maeve Higgins.