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Festival Review: Rhinoceros ***

Ashling Findlay-Carroll reviews a production that's 'thought provoking and bonkers in equal parts'.

Zinnie Harris' reworking of the Ionesco classic is thought provoking and bonkers in equal parts!

Composer Oguz Kaplangi's live orchestration is particularly strong from the start, transporting us to a hot heady evening, creating mystery and tension and intensifying in tandem with the main character's internal state.

Robert Jack gives an energetic performance as Berenger, and the playful relationship with Steven McNicoll as his best friend 'Jean' is amusing, but I can't help feeling they get too close to being carried away at points and teeter into panto style, coming out of character to address 'mistakes'. Perhaps this is part of the director's stylistic choice? For me it jars, breaks the belief in the story and leads me to struggle to care for the characters when I so clearly see the actors behind them. That said, the cast are strong and give dynamic performances, maintaining a back-breaking pace which moves the action forward and creates some excellent comical moments.

The transformation of Jean into a rhinoceros on stage in front of his—and our—eyes, works really well, and we see the decline of his human qualities as he gives in to the infection that will engulf him.

Tom Piper's brilliant set, featuring a series of platforms which decrease in size as they increase in height, creates a superb visual metaphor for the character's isolation, and the poignant final image of a solitary man amongst total chaos is quite simply beautiful and somehow makes all of the absurdity of the previous two hours not only worth it but melt away.

Rhinoceros, Royal Lyceum theatre, 7:30pm, 3 - 12 August 2017.

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