"Rhinoceros" by Eugene Ionesco
at New Theatre.
This was my first visit to The New Theatre situated in the University Of Nottingham campus, not a million miles away from Lakeside's Djanogly Theatre. It's a small theatre but ideal for little gems like the one on this week, "Rhinoceros".
"Rhinoceros",written in 1959 is a play which belongs to the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd. The inhabitants of a small town turn into rhinoceroses, (or should that be rhinocerii?), but the only human who does not succumb to this mass metamorphosis is the central character, Berenger, who is criticized throughout the play for his drinking and tardiness. The play explores the themes of conformity, culture, philosophy and morality.
A talented cast, who at first I thought some were slightly over the top and shouty, but maybe that was the onset of the rhinoceros transformation as a couple of the characters, before the full metamorphosis, turned loud and angry, so that could be the omen!
Some lovely comic touches in the script, well performed by the major as well as the lesser characters. All the actors have performed before, a few of them with Lakeside productions "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Dr Faustus", so were fairly familiar to my eyes.
The main character, Berenger was played by Eoin Buckley, and good to see him continue with the quasi comic roles, following on from the last role I saw him in in "Midsummer Night", and nice to see him take on the lead role as well. He showed a very natural acting ability and I found watching the scenes with him and Max Miller like eavesdropping on a private conversation. Both actors made me believe in their characters and to see past the actor.
Jake Leonard played a blinder as Jean. Berenger's friend, who took pleasure in berating him, and quite frightening in his scenes as he turned into a Rhino.
One man, who has a great voice for, well anything he wanted to do, is Joe Hincks. Not only does he do the pre show voice over but plays Berenger's boss, Mr Papillion. Papillion looks to be on the verge of a breakdown as he tries to pull his staff back to the work focus, just before the onset of the rhinos, and this scene makes for a giggle or two. You can almost see the bursting blood vessels in Papillion's neck!
I also loved Emma Kendall's role as the Logician, just for the off the wallness of her character.
Director, Chris Trueman, said that he had had fun directing the show and was a "real hoot" and I believe him because I also had a real hoot watching this madcap, humorous and quite frightening at times play.
I must also mention the lighting and technical directors Sam Osborne and Joanne Blunt for some, at times, subtle but effective lighting effects, all adding to the feeling of menacing, approaching terror of the play.
"Rhinoceros" is on at New Theatre, University of Nottingham campus until Saturday 13 June 2015.