Monday, January 21, 2013

"Nobody is who they're supposed to be" says the actor who is not Nassim Soleimanpour (tonight he's Simon Shepherd) reading from Nassim's script, taken from a sealed envelope moments before.
This is White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, the most curious and fascinating performance I've yet seen among many experimental productions in Bristol Old Vic studio. It's a multi-layered parable involving a different reader each performance and audience members called up by their number to become rabbits in a circus with where cheetahs act like ostriches and showing your ears is a punishable offence ~ this plot detail is particularly vivid to me as I was that rabbit. Other rabbit roles are required as fantasy and anecdote mingle, ending with the actor supplanted by an audience member who reads the final pages, becoming by that choice the new, and endangered, red rabbit... Nassim will never see these unrehearsed readings of his play as his dissident status means he's forbidden to leave Iran: "You are my taste of freedom" he tells us, "I know neither the year nor day you are in. I don’t even know if I’ll be alive.” A salutary thought, though happily three years on he's still active on facebook ~ in fact now a virtual friend.

Jo Caulfield, 'wonderfully sharp and bitchy' star of TV & Radio 4 comedy shows, is touring her new show Better the Devil You Know to 33 venues over 5 months. Frome's Merlin theatre was the second date so Jo was quite fresh last Saturday though I bet she's sick of Premier Inns by June. It's not cutting-edge but Jo's mix of fairly traditional observational comedy, faintly potty-mouthed feistiness, and skilful audience interaction made for entertaining evening. Sitting rashly in row B, I did get picked on a bit but at least I didn't have to be a rabbit.

And now, as a blog is a kind of timeline, here's the long-awaited snow...

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