Blank (4 stars)

Nassim Soleimanpour's new story machine guarantees a tailor-made experience


Nassim Soleimanpour has made his name with meta-performances that draw on the immediacy of live theatre: from the performers reading the script for the first time in White Rabbit Red Rabbit, to co-opting audience members to perform in Blind Hamlet.

Blank combines the fresh performer delivering a blind-reading and the game-like participation of Blind Hamlet. Yet Soleimanpour's ambitions have altered: Blank has been written in response to replies he received after telling his own story and offers an invitation to the audience to speak for themselves, by the creation of a story machine. This play only exists in so far as it serves as a device for the audience to articulate themselves.

Unlike his previous works, Blank contains little autobiographical material, although many of his thematic fascinations: the nature of performance, the power of writing to hold text frozen in time, and a looming morbidity. Having moved from the more explicit but slightly blunted metaphors of mortality in White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Blank offers a more intimate, touching, and compassionate platform for the participant to consider their own mortality.

As in any other theatre-machine, the experience of Blank will vary dependant on the assemblage of performer and participants, with this variance holding the potential for a lot of humour and intimacy but also of frustration, dependant on the performer. In this instance, Isobel McArthur deftly takes ownership of the material, embracing her precarious role within it. And despite the apparent bleakness of the theme, her tale is subtly reassuring and realised effectively through the script's process.

Summerhall (Venue 26), run ended.


  • 4 stars

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…


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