The Storey CIC, Lancaster
Eugène Ionesco’s 1959 play, Rhinoceros, is an underrated gem of post-war drama, and this revival has relevance to contemporary politics, society and human fears.
A small French town panics when first one, then more and more, rhinoceroses trample and stampede their way through the lives of bewildered residents.
The community’s responses are comically varied, from dry philosophising and simple incredulity to passionate debate about whether the animals are one or two-horned, African or Asiatic – as if it really mattered.
There is a further twist as, one by one, the residents actually turn into rhinoceroses, until...
In a brave and unusual choice of play, Lancaster Footlights, under Greg Robertson’s taut direction, staged a fine, clear and witty production in the Storey’s intimate ground-floor Auditorium.
As Berenger, the ‘Everyman’ figure of the piece, Dan Butt gave a strong and nuanced performance as the deceptively dissipated hero.
He was supported by a cast of ten others who portrayed the townsfolk with sympathy and not a little wry humour.
It was good to see the University of Cumbria’s Drama Department represented in the cast – again, because they were a significant presence in the recent Grand’s Footlights production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. This is a remarkable and commendable example of town and gown working together; something that Lancaster University and its theatre presence have been talking about for a while now, but seem to have done little about it. A shame – as the result can only be for the good of all parties. So again, full marks to The Grand for its often unsung achievements.
by Michael Nunn