Interrobang's White Rabbit, Red Rabbit turns improv into a matter of life and death | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Interrobang's White Rabbit, Red Rabbit turns improv into a matter of life and death

Every week, a different actor takes the stage to lead the audience through this participatory experience.


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Interrobang Theatre Project presents Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour's experimental one-person show, in which a different actor is handed a script he or she hasn't read and asked to involve the audience in a drama that may or may not result in the actor's demise.

The setup is simple: an actor, a script, a table with two glasses of water and a vial of an unknown powder, a chair, and a stepladder. Soleimanpour's acerbic and clever exploration of control and free will transforms these rudimentary props and the participants who wield them into a powerful statement about the plight of an individual in an oppressive society.

Stephanie Shum ably navigated these perilous waters on the night I saw the show. I was compelled to participate (it was not a request); I was #9, the bear. That the audience has to be part of the show might on the surface make one think of the comedy improv form, but Soleimanpour's intent is the polar opposite of the average Second City sketch. While the script instructs those who remain seated to clap, their former neighbors onstage are accessories to a potential crime rather than straight men there to sell a joke. It's a lot closer to the Stanford Prison Experiment than to Saturday Night Live, but it's as compelling and thought-provoking an hour as I've spent at the theater this year.   v

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