By Howard Shapiro – (Newsworks)
The breezy version of “Rhinoceros” from the city’s Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium maintains some of its playfulness even at the end, when playwright Eugène Ionesco leaves one man standing alone against the rampaging creatures of the play’s title. But the production is by no means Ionesco Lite.
Rather, it’s a look at human nature that avoids a lecturish tone. In 1960, Ionesco wrote his play about a community whose residents turn into stampeding pachyderms. As an example of Theater of the Absurd, “Rhinoceros” is a guiding light for playwrights in a Fringe Festival: avant-garde, but highly focused and with a purpose. Ionesco wrote it to show the way a community adopts a faddish, reprehensible standard. In this case, he was referring to recent history — the Nazis and fascism.
At first the townsfolk resist the beasts or even deny their existence, and ultimately they join them. “Rhinoceros” is about throwing out the baby, the bath water and finally yourself.