Cleverly based on a true story, the production spans two continents and explores betrayal and forgiveness, greed and regret, and features playwright Kit Brookman amongst the talented line-up of actors.
The bizarre real events that inspired this story took place in 2006, when Karl Szmolinsky, a German breeder of giant rabbits, was approached by the North Korean government to acquire a number of his bunnies ostensibly for a breeding program to be set up in North Korea. He agreed to sell his rabbits. No one quite knows what happened next, except that his invitation to go to North Korea to oversee the creation of a rabbit-breeding program was abruptly cancelled without explanation.
“The play, clearly, is not and does not aim to be a naturalistic representation of the events that inspired it, nor of the true situation in recent times in North Korea, but the truth hovers at its shoulder as the waking world sits beside a dream, or nightmare,’ says Kit Brookman. ‘It is a fable about guilt and forgiveness, about the things we are willing to ignore in order to succeed, and the price we pay for having ignored them when we do.”
Steve Rodgers will play Johann (based on farmer, Karl Szmolinsky) whose super-sized rabbits are his pride and joy. Much to his surprise, the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has taken a special interest and will stop at nothing to get his hands on them.
When a bungled undercover rescue mission transports Johann to North Korea, he finds himself, and the bunnies he betrayed, in a bit of a stew. It’s crammed with secret agents, espionage, double-crossings and a giant rabbit named Felix, the role Kit Brookman will play.
“A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il strikes at the heart of one of the great challenges of the 21st Century,” says Lee Lewis who will direct the play. “Forgiveness. How do we forgive the crimes of the 20th Century? How do we forgive betrayal?”
Director: Lee Lewis Featuring: Kate Box, Kit Brookman, Kaeng Chan, Steve Rodgers, Mémé Thorne Designer: Elizabeth Gadsby Lighting Designer: Luiz Pampolha Sound Designer: Steve Francis Stage Manager: Charlotte Barrett.
A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il
Riverside Theatres – Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Season: 25 – 28 November 2015
Bookings: (02) 8839 3399 or online at: www.riversideparramatta.com.au
Image: Steve Rodgers features in A Rabbit for Kim Jong-il (supplied)