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In a sleepy French provincial town, a rhinoceros rampages across the market square. Another crushes someone’s cat. Read more …

A woman sounds the alarm: it is the townspeople themselves who are transforming into these raging beasts. As more and more of the citizens embrace their future as rhinos, just one man – the drunkard Berenger – refuses to transform. But why does he feel so out of step with everyone else? And what will his refusal to conform cost him?

Eugène Ionesco’s classic 1959 play is an uproarious absurdist farce – and a chilling examination of conformism, nationalism, fascism and fundamentalism that has been compared with Orwell’s Animal Farm and Camus’s The Plague. It considers the countless ways in which humans are content to adapt themselves to new and horrifying circumstances, and give in to poisonous ideologies.

Alongside its piercing political insights, it is comic, thrillingly theatrical and deeply human, focusing on the unlikely hero of the everyman Berenger, and the possibility of resistance to what might seem inevitable.

The critical consensus

Thought provoking and bonkers in equal parts.

***(*)(*)Ashling Findlay-Carroll, Across the Arts

This winning international collaboration makes for a fantastic night at the theatre! Just hope you never have to say, as Bérenger did, ‘My friend is a rhino!’

*****Irene Brown, Edinburgh Guide, 07/08/2017

Whether we are in the USA, or Turkey, or even closer to home, it’s hard not to tremble at the sheer boldness and prescience of Ionesco’s vision of how easily human beings can forget their humanity; and – eager to join the herd – become something else entirely, in the course of an afternoon.

*****Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, 07/08/2017

Trouble is, today, Rhinoceros is a bit on the nose. Ionesco's allegory has become common parlance for the spread of fascism, and his play looks mighty formulaic.

**(*)(*)(*)Matt Trueman, What's On Stage, 07/08/2017

There is a definite hit-and-miss feel to some of it – the humour can be a little too knowing, down to the blatant visual steal from that other absurdist Spike Milligan – but there is a wild commitment to it that brooks no argument.

****(*)Thom Dibdin, All Edinburgh Theatre, 08/08/2017

The diverse cast is excellent and their energy contagious, with Jack and McNicoll's performances particularly memorable. The final result is an elegant production, as entertaining as it is powerful.

*****Adeline Amar, The List, 09/08/2017

Director Murat Daltaban marshals a versatile cast through a script which demands energy and subtlety to make its point.

****(*)David Pollock, The Independent, 10/08/2017

Zinnie Harris and Turkish director Murat Daltaban reaffirm the political potency of Ionesco’s fable about the insidious power of violence and ideology.

****(*)Marine Furet, Plays to See, 12/08/2017

The world they inhabit feels just too cartoonish to matter; Tom Piper’s white-walled set, shifting and shrinking as Berenger’s world gets smaller—is fascinating, but also literally overshadows the cast.

***(*)(*)Paul F Cockburn, Broadway Baby, 13/08/2017

This is an ensemble production with no weak links, the ten-strong performers leading this fast-paced production through to its clear and illogical conclusion.

****(*)Justine Blundell, Edinburgh Guide, 26/03/2018

An enigmatic ending to a blisteringly funny and imaginatively staged narrative, bolstered by a scintillating live score by Oguz Kaplangi (a mish-mash of sirens and nature, arabic and funk) and an arresting lighting design by Chris Davey, which matches Jean’s tongue-in-cheek description of the latest play at the Lyceum which he instructs Berenger to watch on the grounds that it is “a 5 star show, go see”. What he said!

Peter Callaghan, Review Sphere, 27/03/2018

It is a rallying cry for resistance and engagement and compassion, however absurd such acts might seem.

****(*)Gareth Davies, The Reviews Hub, 26/03/2018

It’s a pertinent time to perform this play, it just would have been great if its producers hadn’t spent quite so much time telling us so.

***(*)(*)Ben Reiss, Plays to See, 28/03/2018

The production overall is a fine example of keeping this absurdist style of theatre alive and relevant.

****(*)Stewart McLaren, The Wee Review, 07/04/2018

Splendidly conceived, excellently performed.

Mark Brown, Scottish Stage, 08/04/2018

Features about Rhinoceros

On the horn of a dilemma--Rhino's return to Lyceum

John Kennedy, The Edinburgh Reporter, 15/03/2018

Where and when?

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh from Friday March 23, 2018, until Saturday April 7, 2018. More info:

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