Performing Arts

Rhinoceros – Fringe

Rhinoceros Fringe 2010Presented by Urban Myth Theatre of Youth.

The Studio, Holden Street Theatres, Holden Street, Hindmarsh
Reviewed Sunday March 14th 2010

Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist play is set in a French town, beginning at a table outside a café in the town square where Berenger, an alcoholic with an indifference to life and work, is being berated by Jean, a co-worker. Suddenly, a rhinoceros runs past. Shortly after, another passes in the opposite direction and kills a cat. They argue over whether it was the same rhinoceros or a second one and Jean storms off.

We soon discover that the townsfolk are transmogrifying, and the rhinoceros population is taking over as the humans opt to join their already trsnsposed friends and families. Soon, only Berenger and Daisy, a co-worker that he loves, are left. Then even she succumbs, leaving him alone, vowing to stay human against all odds.

The play was originally inspired by the rise of the fascist Iron Guard in Ionesco’s native Romania in the 1930s but is equally relevant if taken to mean the Nazis, Communists, fascist regimes, militant religious fundamentalist fanatics and any other group of similar ilk. He shows how people can easily be drawn to the larger and more powerful group, even knowing that it is the wrong thing to do.

Urban Myth are using British playwright Martin Crimp’s 2007 adaptation of Ionesco’s three act play for this production, with direction of this energetic and enthusiastic production by Corey McMahon and a striking set by Cassandra Backler. The young cast each take a couple of roles, apart from Poppy Mee, crossing gender to play Berenger, Patrick Zoerner as Jean and Olivier Fairweather as Daisy. The others in the cast are Julia Sciacca, Lucca Boyce, Hannah-Claire Kobler, Hugh Hirst-Johnson, Roger Parnis and Lucia Van Sebille, with more gender crossing due to the preponderance of female cast members. This gender reversal generally passes without comment, although there was considerable laughter when Berenger suggested to Daisy that they repopulate the human world together.

Poppy Mee gives a good account of herself in the central role of Berenger, showing well the transition that he makes from the disinterested alcoholic to the strong resistance fighter. Zoerner throws himself into his role as Jean, with plenty of action as he changes into a rhinoceros and Fairweather is delightful as the fickle Daisy. Strong support comes from the entire cast in what is largely an ensemble piece. Another good effort from Urban Myth, not only encouraging younger people to participate in the arts but offering the opportunity to do so in a relevant and exciting way.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Glam Adelaide Arts Editor.

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