Patrick O'Byrne reviews 'Rhinoceros' by the Blue Raincoat Theatre Company - Galway


Review of Rhinoceros by Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, Town Hall Theatre, Galway on 28.02.12.


Dear Blue Raincoat Theatre Company,

I hardly know you. And you certainly don’t know me - yet. But you will – as I will be working with you this coming May as part of my MA in Drama & Theatre Studies here at NUIG. Our paths have crossed before, however. I attended a weekend workshop with two of your members last November - Sandra O’ Malley, who taught me some of her strange Corporel Mime skills, and Joe Hunt, who taught me some of his strange Sound Engineering skills. They were there tonight of course. Sandra formed two parts of this ensemble acting cast playing the main character’s love interest, Daisy, and the proprietor of the featured café in their town. She was acting this time but her dancer’s poise gave away her first love. Joe’s relentlessly rhythmical soundtrack matched the dialogue’s unflinching pace and swept me along willingly. I found myself closing my eyes at times allowing myself to bath in their perfectly complimentary synthesis.

You totally assaulted my senses from beginning to end. From the perfectly executed wordplay of Bob Kelly’s Berenger and Ciaran McCauley’s Jean outside the café at the beginning, through the various comical ensemble set pieces, to Berenger’s final declaration that he was “not capitulating”. As unconvincing as his character’s terminal words were, I was totally convinced that this crazy place your director, Niall Henry, had constructed for us from Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist writings, was completely real.

Do I wish to live in this town? I surely know a Logician/Grocer as depicted by your John Carty or a Housewife/Waitress as depicted by your Nicholla McEvilly. And hasn’t every town and village up and down the length of this country got an Old Lady/Grocer’s Wife? It isn’t hard for me to relate to the small town office or café staff you presented to us here either.  Was there a part of me – or someone close to me – in Berenger? You were asking me this weren’t you Blue Raincoat Theatre Company? You were asking all of us in that theatre I think. The thing of it is – if we are the Berenger’s of our towns were we not, grouped together in this microcosm of the Town Hall Theatre not rhinoceroses of same?

I may not yet know you, as I have stated at the outset, yet you reveal yourself to me, as you reveal myself to me, through your work. The cracked façade you constructed on stage, revealed, in the end, reflections of ourselves, having distracted us for a time with your non-silences – showing us up for who we thought we were, scurrying around and around the edifice, which all along contained our true selves. Do come back again sometime for I would learn more both from you and about you that I may at least pretend to know you in part before committing myself to you.