Rhinoceros makes a statement at the Actors Workshop Theatre

“Christ, a rhinoceros!” 

Written by Eugene Ionesco and translated by Martin Crimp, the TRU Actors Workshop Theatre’s production of Rhinoceros is directed by Wesley Eccleston and premiered on Feb. 29. The show’s stage run will conclude this weekend with performances from March 7 to March 9.

When one rhinoceros charges across the town square on a Sunday afternoon, Berenger shrugs. However, the number of beasts gradually increases until they become a crash of rhinoceros that threatens Berenger’s world. What will compel him to confront the emerging menace of “rhinocerization?”

Rhinoceros is an avant-garde drama and anti-fascist allegory in three acts. This play employs some unusual dramatic devices, such as juxtaposing two parallel conversations and breaking the fourth wall. Its satirical comedy serves as a critique of conformity.

Jordan Jackson’s performance as Berenger is outstanding. One quickly forgets the male protagonist is portrayed by an actress. Her range of emotional expression throughout the “rhinocerization” of Berenger’s small French village seems human and humane.

Bryce Craig’s portrayal of Berenger’s friend, Jean, is also exceptional. Craig’s dominant demeanour towers over Jackson’s short stature. As Jean’s initial strength degrades into savagery, Berenger is also transformed from an apathetic alcoholic into a sort of saviour and survivor.

The cast of Rhinoceros also includes Flavian Owaldi as Boeuf, Kelsey Launier as Botard, Julian McKibbon as Daisy, Matt Olsen as Dudard and Amanda Wiggins as Papillon.

The TRU Actors Workshop Theatre’s production of Rhinoceros immerses the audience in an atmosphere of glowing masks, apparent set destruction and rumbling seats. This play’s thirteen-person crew includes stage manager Leonardo Barragan, assistant stage manager Gavin Edwards, technical director Leon Schwesinger and sound and lighting operator Jaida Barker, among others.

Originally staged in 1959, Ionesco wrote Rhinoceros not merely to condemn the horrific rise of Fascism but also to explore the mindset of those who readily embraced it. According to The Actors Workshop Theatre’s pamphlet paired with the play, Martin Crimp’s translation was first produced by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre on Sep. 21, 2007.

The TRU Actors Workshop Theatre will be performing Rhinoceros again from March 7 to March 9. Tickets are available here.