25 January 2018

Review: Nassim

Arts Centre Melbourne
23 January 2018
Fairfax Studio
to 28 January

Nassim Soleimanpour

 روزی روزگاری

Nassim Soleimanpour's new work Nassim opened at the Edinburgh Festival last year and we are so lucky to have it at Arts Centre Melbourne this week. He wrote White Rabbit Red Rabbit , which is all anyone who has seen Rabbit needs to know.

Thirty-seven-year-old Soleimanpour is from Iran. He now lives in Berlin and is best known for his 2010 White Rabbit Red Rabbit. A performer only performs it once. They get the script when they walk onto the stage in front of the audience. He wrote it in Iran and posted it to the world because he couldn't get a passport. For once, the world – at least our theatre world – listened and it's been translated from Farsi into 25 languages and been performed all over the place by famously known, respected and/or loved performers. The author finally saw a production in 2013, in Brisbane.

As the Rabbit experience is so dependent on performer and audience discovering the text at the same time, writing anything about it is almost unfair.

Nassim is more developed than Rabbit but it is similar in that the performer gets the script when they walk onto the stage. And saying anything about it is almost unfair.

But it's wonderful. I'm smiling as I think about it.

It's about family and home and language and story and how little it takes to feel connected and dismiss any notions of difference.

And never think that it's gimmick theatre. The structure is remarkable and the emotion is real.

On opening night, performer Alison Bell was as nervous as is expected, and much of the experience is being with the performer as they become comfortable with the audience – who also relax and realise that they are part of the experience and not faceless watchers in the dark. As the performer begins to enjoy the experience of having no idea of what's about to happen, the audience switch from being so grateful that they are not on stage to, maybe, wishing that they were.

Especially as there is another person making the performance: Nassim Soleimanpour.

You've missed Alison Bell and Benjamin Law, but Charlie Pickering, Nakkiah Lui, Catherine McClements and Denise Scott are on for the rest of the week.

This is theatre that connects and celebrates and a mini community is formed from each performance; it's our shared experience with the performer and playwright. I know that sometime this year I will meet a stranger who was there, and we will become friends as we discover we were both saw this performance and begin to talk about it.

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