It's a quiet Sunday in a French village and the locals are enjoying their day. Suddenly a rhinoceros rampages through the village, leaving havoc in its wake. Well, of all things!
"Rhinoceros" has returend to the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. The play was the very first production staged at the theater thirty-five years ago and is playing to commemorate WHAT's milestone anniversary.
Following the first appearance of the rhino, one cast member after another turns into a rhinoceros.
The play, written by Eugene Ionesco in 1959, is often viewed as a response to the upsurge of Nazism and Fascism during the lead-up to World War II. The dialogue touches many topics that are still at play in 2019, including what we now call "fake news", racism, conformity, mob mentality and more. Zero Mostel won a 1961 Tony for his performance in Rhino. Joseph Anthony was nominated for a Tony the same year for Best Direction of a Play.
The WHAT production is a lot of fun. It has the high-energy, madcap feel of a French "theatre of the absurd" performance. The cast has excellent chemistry and clearly have a lot of fun with their roles. There is quite a bit of physical comedy, all very well-executed.
The theater was quite full the night your editors attended. As with our previous visits, WHAT continues to serve a very diverse, multi-generational audience. This is a mix that many local theaters have not achieved but one that WHAT has mastered over its 35 year life.
One performer earns a special tip of the hat. Dick Morrill is a founding member of WHAT. He performed in the theater's opening production of Rhinoceros back in 1985 and is a strong supporter of WHAT.
If you have a penchant for absurd humor and madcap comedy, take a drive down to Wellfleet - but watch out for that rampaging rhino.
If You Go
by Eugene Ionesco
Previews: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 & 6
Shows: 2 p.m. Sept. 8, 22 & 28; 8 p.m. Sept. 7, 18, 19, 21, 24 & 27
Tickets: $25-$39 (student and senior discounts available)
Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater
2357 Route 6, Wellfleet
508-349-9428 | www.what.org