Lost down a rab­bit hole

The Tribune (NZ) - - PERFORMANCE -

Usu­ally it’s the au­di­ence who ar­rives at the the­atre un­re­hearsed. That way, au­di­ence re­ac­tions get to be spon­ta­neous.

So, what if it was the other way around – that the au­di­ence has ex­actly the same inkling about what to ex­pect from the play as the per­former. This way, the per­former also gets to be spon­ta­neous. That’s a premise be­hind White Rab­bit,

Red Rab­bit by Ira­nian play­wright Nas­sim Soleiman­pour. It’s an idea that at­tempts to up­turn tra­di­tional the­atri­cal con­ven­tions, though those who fre­quent stand-up com­edy, hyp­no­tism shows and im­prov per­for­mances won’t no­tice much out of the usual.

Onto a blank stage, apart from a step lad­der on one side and a round cafe ta­ble with chair on the other, the ac­tor steps. Sit­ting on the ta­ble are two glasses of wa­ter, a spoon and an en­ve­lope. In­side the en­ve­lope is the script. This is the first time, apart from some back­stage in­struc­tions, that ac­tor and script are ac­quainted. Each night then, calls for a dif­fer­ent ac­tor.

Sunday night’s per­former was Palmer­ston North raised Car­rie Green, who grad­u­ated from Toi Whakaari – the New Zealand Drama School in 2012. Car­rie won a 2015 Welling­ton The­atre Award for Most Promis­ing New­comer, and helped con­duct Cen­tre­point’s 2016 sum­mer school.

Through­out she was per­son­able, en­gag­ing, nat­u­ral and unthe­atri­cal, pre­sent­ing the play­wright so his pres­ence came through, his words and in­ten­tions with plenty of light and shade. The au­di­ence re­acted, laughed and ap­plauded as to­gether we dis­cov­ered the script.

Let’s just say the un­re­hearsed scripted read­ing is some sort of ex­tended para­ble to do with hu­man be­havioural science, sui­cide and a nod per­haps to the para­dox of Schrodinger’s cat.

How­ever, I’m still not sure where this par­tic­u­lar rab­bit hole came out. Was it a dis­cov­ery worth mak­ing? Did the out­come match the ‘top se­cret’ hype?

I must ad­mit to an­ti­cli­max. It will be dif­fer­ent next time. You’ll have to go and de­cide for your­self.

PHO­TOS SUP­PLIED

Ac­tors Car­rie Green and Laura Daniel were on­stage at Cen­tre­point dur­ing the first two nights of the ex­per­i­men­tal play White Rab­bit Red Rab­bit.

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