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White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Jess Zintschenko

Multihyphenate performer Eddie Perfect is the first to tackle Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit.
White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Eddie Perfect, the first of 12 performers to tackle White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Image via Arts Centre Melbourne.

Multihyphenate performer Eddie Perfect is the first in a series of 12 performers to tackle Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit at Arts Centre Melbourne. Over the course of a year the show will be presented monthly with a different performer stepping up to take on the role of ‘Actor’ and a new set of willing participants to fill the role of ‘Audience’.

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By its nature White Rabbit Red Rabbit is mysterious, the performer and the audience are unsure of what to expect from the 60 minutes they will spend together. Reviews (including this one) are notoriously cagey and reveal little about what happens within the performance. But that is just what the playwright wants. Much of the enjoyment of the show comes from the feeling of everyone in the room, including the physically absent but spiritually very present writer, being connected and creating something special which can never be repeated.

The show calls for a different performer each time. Even though the script is the same, it is the interpretation of the words, and the response of the audience which makes the show so different. Eddie Perfect is a talented writer, comedian, actor, and singer-songwriter. With a natural quick wit and skills in the creation of work as well as performance he is the ‘perfect’ person to take on the challenge of White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Perfect is incredibly intelligent and his stage presence is relaxed and relatable. He easily develops a rapport with the audience and they are with him every step of his unknown journey, through both the light-hearted and dark tales.

As is much advertised there are no rehearsals, no director, and a script previously unseen by the performer. The show is full of uncertainty of what is going to happen next. At times this brings joy, at other times much worry. The show feels like a time travel experiment with the writer transported from his home in Iran in 2010 to the Melbourne Arts Centre in 2017 using the actor as his conduit. While not physically present the writer is able to communicate directly with the audience through his script, however he also encourages actual communication via Facebook or email.   

White Rabbit Red Rabbit has some interesting stories to tell, and is definitely a thought-provoking piece but also comes across as a rather self-indulgent piece of writing. Due to the meta nature of the script the writer is constantly pointing out his existence and his power.

After leaving the theatre much thought was given to ‘Was this show actually as good as people think if you remove the hype surrounding its mysterious presentation?’ and ‘Would this show have been as good with someone who was not Eddie Perfect?’ Those questions, like many others raised in White Rabbit Red Rabbit, will remain unanswered here.    

Lovers of theatre and/or the written word should see White Rabbit Red Rabbit at least, and at most once. Resist the urge to go again. Treasure the initial performance. The key to enjoying the show completely is to literally be on the same page as the performer and experiencing Soleimanpour’s words together. Multiple viewings will give you a guaranteed different show each time, but as a veteran audience member who knows what is coming you’ve not only ruined the experience for yourself, but run the risk of being tempted to alter the outcome for others.  To increase your enjoyment of the experience it is suggested to make sure the performer is one you admire or are at least intrigued by. Keep an eye out on the Arts Centre Melbourne website for announcements of future performers.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Aurora Nova presents
White Rabbit Red Rabbit
By Nassim Soleimanpour
Featuring Eddie Perfect
The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne
Next performance on May 6 features John Wood.
Book at artscentremelbourne.com.au

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Jess Zintschenko

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