Monday, May 13, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Freedom and Manipulation
An Interactive Message in a Bottle
by Jim Murchison

There is a challenge in writing a review about a play where it is important you not tell anyone exactly what it is about. The Company of Fools is presenting Nassim Soleimanpour's White Rabbit Red Rabbit at the Arts Court Library. During the run the Play will never be performed by the same actor twice and the actor that plays it will have not had a chance to see the script until he gets to the theatre to read it to the audience that night.
When I was a teenager beachcombing for treasures on the shores of Prince Edward Island, I came across a bottle buried to it's neck in the sand. There was a cork in the bottle and a note with the name of the sender and that he was from Springhill Nova Scotia and the words "Please write back!" I didn't know how old he was when he sent it, how much time had passed since he sent it, where he was now or how old he was or even if he was alive. I never found out either. 
This is unlike anything you have ever seen in the theatre before.

Soleimanpour lives in Tehran and is not permitted to travel. This play - or maybe it's just a letter that is performed - is his message in a bottle to connect him to the outside world. We take our relative freedom for granted. Not everyone is as free to move and speak and write as we. Although elements of improvisation are involved, the play is very structured and nothing is meant to occur that is not dictated by the playwright or maybe the opposite is true and it is meant to provoke rebellion. You decide. Soleimanpour's play is thought provoking and in some ways highly manipulative and yet we have the freedom to be as interactive or withdrawn as we choose in experiencing it.
This is unlike anything you have ever seen in the theatre before. I would encourage you see it and not to surf for information before you go to see it, so you go in as blind as the actor who will be performing it. How it will be on the night you see it is anyone's guess because it is dependant on the chemistry of the actor and the audience but I am convinced it will be worthwhile.
The night I saw it, the guest actor was GCTC's artistic director Eric Coates and he and the audience enjoyed themselves a great deal I believe. My only sadness in seeing it is that I will now never be allowed to perform it. That's just a selfish actor speaking. Then again maybe I could play it if the opportunity came up. As I said, we all have choices.
runtime: approximately 1 hour with no intermission


  1. Saw the play tonight. Your well-written review, which I read afterwards, helped me get more out of the performance in retrospect. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback. It is appreciated and I am glad that you took something back from Mr Soleimanpour and me. It is what I love about the theatre and critique. I may go back myself to see a woman play it. I am sure Scott Florence's performance was very different from Eric Coates' and very entertaining as well. Jim Murchison


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