“White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is Perseverance Theatre’s most successful attempt to replicate the buzz of live theater with a digital platform.
The theater’s productions in the recent past have been creative, enjoyable and generally worked successfully in the medium. However, in terms of generating the “what’s going to happen next” excitement that comes with a live performance, it’s nearly impossible to top a play that requires its principal actor to read its script cold.
“White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is also a play that routinely shatters the fourth wall, features meta-commentary and incorporates brief but crucial stretches of audience participation —and it’s been adapted to make the most of the digital medium.
It’s nearly impossible to know what’s going to happen next throughout the play, and that uncertainty is captivating.
To get into more specifics about the play would undermine the go-in-cold ethos of the play, but in broad strokes, “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” is a show that will make you laugh, make you think and drag you out of your head and into the moment.
It may also force you onto a virtual stage, which is where I found myself in the Saturday evening production of the show. A brutally honest assessment: The Friday night audience member did a much better job than me and had a cooler Zoom background to boot. Although, my sleepy dog did some solid work as a background actor.
Audience members should go in with open minds, active webcams and a custom Zoom background if they don’t want anyone to know how they live.
It’s also a play that can delve into dark subject matters and people with a strong aversion to suicide as a subject matter should know that it is a topic that comes up during the show. Otherwise, “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is generally a play sparse on imagery or language that couldn’t be said in a PG-13 film, but that’s largely dependent on the actor and the audience.
“White Rabbit Red Rabbit” will feature a new main actor each night of its run, which means there’s not necessarily a definitive version of the show.
Decisions made by actors and audience members can drastically alter the experience one night to another.
The broad beats were the same in Martin Sensmeier’s and Frank Henry Kaash Katasse’s respective Friday and Saturday night performances, but the material and nature of the show mean that each and every actor will leave the unique swirl of their fingerprints on the show.
It’s also a format that makes seeing the wide array of local favorites scheduled to perform as appealing as the nationally known actors also slated to brave the unknown.
There’s a novelty in seeing an actor you recognize from movies and TV attempt something designed to be at least slightly uncomfortable, and there’s an altogether different appeal in seeing someone familiar work their way through the high-wire show as either an actor or participating audience member.
“I’d hate to be them right now,” you might think.
But in “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” there’s a good chance you’ll be in their shoes next.
Know & Go
What: “White Rabbit Red Rabbit”
When: 7:30 p.m. on April 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30, as well as May 1 and 2. 4 p.m. on April 25.
Admission: Pay-as-you-can, with $12, $17, & $27 options available.