DAY 1 of this tour and already I’ve broken the premise of exploring the history and development of theatre by seeing Ionesco’s Rhinoceros at the Onassis Cultural Centre. Of course Ionesco is renown for Absurdist Theatre and when one gets the opportunity to see a French theatre company performing in the original language as part of the Athens Epidaurus Festival, I firmly believe the variation in the thesis can be justified with a view to future research in the Post Modern period when perhaps one can travel to Paris and Ionesco’s native influences and explore his perceptions of Nazism and Facism that gave inspiration to this marvellous piece of theatre.
The atmosphere in the Onassis Cultural Centre was palpable. The building itself is a wonderful monument to cultural philanthropy and the show appeared to be a sell out. The production values, so often overstated for this work, relied mostly on the mechanics of a set that could move and heave as the drama unfolded to a point where the extreme 45 degree angles of the office playing area, had the characters clinging on for dear life: a perfect metaphor for the piece. Also extraordinary was the beautifying of the rhinoceros revealed in a picture portrait centre stage to perfectly reflect the idolatry associated with this peculiar Other.
Perhaps as an Antipodean I have never experienced the reaction of an audience with at least 20 curtain calls. All of which were executed with the fine precision and attention to the work of the ensemble as a whole. That the play was delivered in French with Greek sur-titles did not impede the pleasure. This was truly an example of how great drama, like opera, can overcome perceived language barriers.
- Athens, Epidaurus Festival 2013 Program Announced (greece.greekreporter.com)