Blank

Nassim Soleimanpour is known for his intelligent plays that have no need for a director, designer or even rehearsals. No, all that’s needed for one of his plays to be performed is an actor and an audience (okay, and a technician if we’re being pedantic) – it’s a trick he used in White Rabbit Red Rabbit and while Blank develops on this form it also remains too distanced and acknowledges its own intelligence far too much to make a lasting impact.

There’s no denying Soleimanpour’s technical ability to challenge our expectations and keep us interested

The play ostensibly deals with the nature of storytelling and allows a member of the audience to become The Character with the rest of the audience is cast as the writers of The Character’s life and future. Soleimanpour is clearly one of the most intelligent playwrights on display at the Fringe, gradually picking apart and subverting theatrical conventions whilst also providing the actor, The Character and the audience plenty of room to play and make each performance completely unique. As we get to fill in the Blanks surrounding The Character’s life, future and eventual death, inevitably, no two performances will ever be the same. Soleimanpour recognises this fact with humility and self-deprecating humour admitting that he’s “probably the third best playwright in the room”.

There’s no denying Soleimanpour’s technical ability to challenge our expectations and keep us interested: employing an actor who has never read the script before and is as much in the dark as the audience creates a collective feeling of anxious excitement. However, the novelty does wear off fairly quickly and, unless you’ve been picked to be The Character, the show does start to drag a bit too long. There are far too many variables at play to pinpoint any specific issues, as the show is largely dependent on the actor, The Character and the audience embracing and working with the material we’re given. That said, the structure we’re given is a bit too stifling and self-aware for everyone to properly play and enjoy the possibilities.

Ultimately Blank is an interesting companion piece to White Rabbit Red Rabbit, but it still requires some work.

Reviews by Liam Rees

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Known for plays without directors, sets and rehearsals, the acclaimed Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour takes it to extremes in his new play Blank. Each night the gap riddled script is to be completed by a new performer and a live audience. The play becomes a story machine to share the life story of the playwright, the performer and a random audience member. Blank celebrates the communal and elusive nature of theatre as audience members shout, laugh, gasp and collaborate to write the evening’s story, a story that will never be told in the same way ever again.