Thursday, 29 May 2014

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit - Street Theatre

 Nassim Soleimanpour's play is an intriguing experiment. The title itself refers to an experiment that's described in the course of the play - one about conformity and group behaviour. And in many ways, that's what this is - an experiment in conformity and group behaviour. One that's being played on the audience as well as the performer.

In many ways, this most resembles Boho Interactive's "Word Play" from last year - also an experiment, with some intriguing moments - though White Rabbit Red Rabbit definately sustains its experiment better, largely by letting the experiment be two-sided - the actor is as much unprepared for what's coming as the audience. 

Performing tonight was Eliza Bell, whose departure from Canberra has been noticed and somewhat lamented (she's so very good). Performing cold without having ever read the material, she remained engaging, engaged, emotive and true. 

I do think Soleimanpour's script is a little ... manipulative. But I would say that. I'm the rabbit being experimented on. There are a few more experiments running before the week is out and ... if you don't mind something that's going to stretch you a little, you can join Nick Byrne, Raoul Craemer or Kat Bhathena and get experimented on a little.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Government Inspector, Belvoir/Malthouse

This is just plain funny. It's hysterical. And to say why, to summarise, is to give away large chunks of the jokes. No, it does not bear a lot of resemblance to Gogol's play ... although, having said that, it does eventually veer back towards the ostensible source material - but as a pure, unadulterated comedy, this plays incredibly well.

It's not obvious that this should be the case. Simon Stone's productions from "Thysestes" to "Hamlet" have, occasionally, had their moments of bitter humour, but this is an entirely different beast - a spoof of actors, of the haphazard process of creating theatre, and the hopes that somehow, somewhere, it'll all work out okay on the night.

The cast, too, aren't always noticeably comedic actors. Robert Menzies, who's strength at playing serious, haunted, tragic figures is undeniable, translates his mournful nature into hilarious pessimism. Greg Stone, so disturbingly moving last year as Polonius, takes the hysterical perskittiness in a different direction. Mitchell Butel, Gareth Davies and Zahra Newman have more recent comic form, but push their comic personas in intriguing new varieties in several new directions.

Does it compromise by not bringing across Gogol's original? Well, yes and no. The political satire of Gogol's play is pretty minimal, really - it's about how the easiest way to fool people is to make sure they want to be fooled in the first place. And that carries through in this new variation on a theme - while letting the comedy reign free and wild.

Very recomended.