Every show, a new star (including Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, and others) takes on a unique challenge: the actor is handed a script onstage to perform without the help of a director, rehearsals, or a set. More…
Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour is a conscientious objector who refused to take part in mandatory military service and was denied a passport. Forbidden to leave his country, he transcribed his experience of isolation into this unique stage work, an absurdist adventure blending comedy and drama. Each performance features a different actor who sees the script for the first time while stepping onstage.
"'White Rabbit Red Rabbit' by Nassim Soleimanpour — a dazzling, transcendent piece of alive-and-kicking avant-garde theater — is performed by a different lead actor or actress every time it’s staged...Without discussing its many dazzling swings in tone, I’ll say that it is steeped in self-referencing and metaphorical tales about animals, and builds to several surprisingly emotional peaks about the shared experience of art." Full Review
"A playful, enigmatic and haunting solo show...The play is a conversation among playwright, performer and audience, a conversation that, for all its diverting humor, takes on a gravity that prickles your skin...Some other passages slide perilously close to pretentiousness, and much is shrouded in obscurity and frisky quirkiness. But Mr. Soleimanpour’s elliptical play keeps taking odd, unexpected turns that often lead us back to the relief of laughter." Full Review
“The play requires just one actor, who has not seen the script before this performance…[Lane] is a master of the ad lib, and he was in top form, those drawbridge eyebrows and parenthetical smile lines animating his razor-sharp delivery...We are in allegory territory offering equivalent doses of comedy and moral observation…For reasons I can’t go into, the actor is denied that ultimate act of audience participation, a round of applause at the end. Lane deserved one, for sure." Full Review
"My advice to you is to go see someone you like. Someone who is a fairly good story =teller and can handle the spontaneity of interacting with the audience and reading at the same time...The message is confusing, but potent. The story is choppy and a bit messy and unfocused. But if you listen carefully you can really hear a young Iranian playwright vigorously trying to convey an important message through an unrehearsed actor on the stage with a little help from the audience." Full Review
"Whether or not you’ll enjoy this play depends largely on your enthusiasm for allowing your mind to take a turn toward paranoia. Soleimanpour’s words lead viewers down some unlit alleys that are probably not particularly dangerous—until you consider that the playwright himself moves through such treacherous passages on a daily basis. It’s possible to laugh the whole thing off, but I found with surprise that my pulse quickened at certain moments." Full Review
"Nassim Soleimanpour’s text is designed to accommodate any gender, race or age, which is how Nathan Lane could do the inaugural performance last week and I could see Whoopi Goldberg...Soleimanpour is Iranian, and he was in Tehran when he wrote 'White Rabbit Red Rabbit.' The show is clearly influenced by living in an authoritarian regime. It’s playful and often funny, but there’s a serious undertone—the rabbits are part of a lengthy allegory about peer pressure, obedience and repression." Full Review
"As the rabbit tale extended, Soleimanpour turned it into a parable...I should only mention that many audience members seemed to be having a good time right up to the oddball conclusion. I decided that Soleimanpour risks becoming annoyingly specious when he attempts to incriminate us all regarding our lack of concern about oppressed peoples when we’re safe elsewhere. Yes, the producers’ request for review silence prohibits me from substantiating my claim, but there it is, all the same." Full Review
"That such a work—politically fraught but stylistically passé—has wound up at the Westside Theatre is almost absurd in itself...The play itself is terribly earnest, filled with phrases like 'it tastes of freedom'...But if the dated style and lingo occasionally led Lane to roll his eyes or otherwise undermine the text, he was sometimes pulled up short by its power." Full Review
“The form that 'White Rabbit Red Rabbit' employs, in which the performer encounters a script cold, is not precisely a new technique…But Lane will never perform the show again, by design and perhaps also by choice...He did what was required of him, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes reluctantly, always with charm. Perhaps a more earnest performer would have wrung more sincerity from the script, which is ultimately not perhaps as experimental or resonant as it wishes to be.” Full Review
"“It's extremely meta-theatrical, with the playwright often directly addressing the audience through his onstage messenger…Suffused with animal allegories — rabbits are not the only creatures who figure in the scenario — and macabre elements, the piece is ultimately too obscure and diffuse to have the desired impact…Ultimately, the show's main interest will come from the inevitably very different experiences offered by the varied performers." Full Review
"'White Rabbit Red Rabbit' has reportedly been staged all over the world, and yet I suspect its success has more to do with star power than anything in the script. Fans of any of the names mentioned above may be entertained by spending an hour with one of their favorites in a rather novel context. But I fear that the author's intention travels very badly indeed." Full Review
See it if you'd like a one-man show w/ audience participation & a direct connection to the writer (especially if you're a fan of the actor that night)
Don't see it if you don't like dark themes, being made to reflect, and having your life changed.
See it if This was incredible. The actor is given the script on stage + told to do the best they can. This was amazing and I want to see it again!
Don't see it if If you're not interested in a great time, If you're not interested in seeing magic happen well then stay home and watch Netflix!
See it if An amazing scenario when the actor opens the envelope and discovers the improbable script. Saw Nathan Lane & Whoopie Goldberg - both great!
Don't see it if You want a formula play with no surprises and you don't want to both laugh and reflect on life.
See it if you enjoy being surprised! This show is deeply profound but also funny. An extremely original concept. Worth seeing more than once.
Don't see it if you have to know what's going to happen beforehand.
See it if an actor you like is performing, you are interested in the idea of a story being performed once without rehearsal, like interactive theater
Don't see it if you don't like audience participation, want the show to be the same each time it is performed
See it if you are interested in a one man show that deals with political issues using parables and metaphors. Brian Stokes Mitchell was excellent.
Don't see it if you hate parales.
Also The play was surprisingly funny.
See it if you're interested in going on an adventure with a different actor each time. I can't say much because I'd give it away, but it's fascinating
Don't see it if .. honestly-- there's no reason not to see this show.
See it if You want a unique theatre experience that leaves you thinking. Also note that this show is open on Mondays!
Don't see it if You don't like audience participation, or if you just want some light mindless entertainment.
See it if you want a once in a lifetime theatrical experience since each actor only performs the show once. It is truly unique.
Don't see it if you don't have an open mind. The show has an improv element (especially with a different actor each time) & a bare bones staging.
See it if You would like to experience an actor taking risks, doing improv, and learning the show with you.The actors personality shines through.
Don't see it if You want to see a polished production with lots of breath-taking costumes, designs, and sets.
See it if experimental, improv, audience involved theatre excites you! This is a very unique experience. Part existential part stand up.
Don't see it if you don't like free wheeling, seat of your pants evening leave you cold. The performer you see makes ALL the difference in the experience
See it if I saw it twice, with F. Murray Abraham and James Roday. It's a thought-provoking experience. I really enjoyed it both times.
Don't see it if It's not staged or directed. A very non-traditional, experimental theater experience. Definitely not for everyone.
See it if The actor playing the role is someone you like -- and you're willing to take risks with the performer.
Don't see it if You want to remain a passive observer, see something with a traditional narrative, or are averse to audience participation.
See it if you're willing to have you expectations challenged by material that hints at surprising depth and profoundness amidst the absurd.
Don't see it if you're looking for a straightforward play. This isn't it. It's darker than you expect and it creeps up on you. See it w/ an actor you love.
See it if You like theatre that's experimental in content & form. If you want to see a particular actor.
Don't see it if If you want a plot-based play, rather than a vehicle for philosophical ideas and theatrical experimentation.
See it if You like unconventional theater and don't mind a little experimental staging or audience participation.
Don't see it if You want a more structured, traditional narrative; you don't want to possibly be pulled on stage.
See it if You enjoy the actor in the role that night. The actor really impacts how much fun you will have. And you're up for a cold reading!
Don't see it if You are simply there to have fun. The script is extremely serious but it is the actor who brings a lighthearted nature to it.
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