It isn’t every day that a town is invaded by rhinos.
But that is exactly what happens in the Glendale Community College theater arts department’s spring comedy production, aptly titled “Rhinoceros.”
Written by Eugene Ionesco and directed by Matt Foyer, the play establishes a clear separation between individualism and conformity as a town is hit by a rhino invasion.
The production will be presented today and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Auditorium Mainstage.
“Rhinoceros,” which consists of four scenes and colorful, eye-catching sets, presents a handful of outspoken characters who have encountered a loose rhinoceros in their noisy and busy town. The townspeople, who are usually too overwhelmed with their own daily problems to find a conclusive answer, attempt to find explanations for the rhinoceros’ sudden appearance. Could the animal have escaped from a local zoo or circus? Or could the town be hallucinating the whole thing?
The protagonist, Mr. Berenger (Steve Gonzalez), suddenly notices that the missing people are undergoing unusual transformations. These drastic changes become the norm of the community.
Berenger accurately portrays an individual attempting to battle the majority as his character explains to his love interest, Daisy (Anais Thomassian), about his struggle to resist conforming to the “ugly animals” outside. The conflict turns into a more serious situation as more and more of the people are gathering among an increasing rhinoceros population. Berenger’s strong views of remaining alone quickly disappear and become challenged as Daisy’s support becomes weak and eventually fades.
While the play has a unique message, there were effective and ineffective ways to convey the battle of fighting conformity. Before the play even begins, a disguised woman bursting into the lobby warns the audience of the adventure that awaits them. During the first two acts, the audience observes multiple conversations by several characters speaking simultaneously. The intertwining dialogue confuses impatient audience members, allowing them to be easily distracted.
The audience views the play at an extremely untraditional perspective, as the seating arrangement is moved on top of the stage itself. The close-up seating successfully allows more direct interaction between the audience and cast.
Overall, the production accurately reaches the goal of portraying one man and his problem of choosing between isolation or conforming to society. The symbolism is made clear by the end of the last scene, as the audience focuses on Berenger and his thoughts that are at this point literally put into the spotlight.
The GCC theater arts department will hold auditions for its Aug. 9 play “West Side Story” on June 17.The time and location of auditions will be announced later. “Rhinoceros” tickets are sold for $7, $5 for students and $3 if 10 or more tickets are purchased at a time. For more information or to make reservations, call Ext. 5618.