How to Confront a Rhinoceros from Tinkerspace Theatre in London is an allegory about racial discrimination and white supremacy. It is written by Tyler Graham, directed by Tyler and Jocelyn Graham, designed by Jocelyn Graham, and is acted by Tyler Graham. The set features a rhino flag upstage centre and at the start there is an elaborate rhino mask and a cone on the stage.
The two masks used in the show are quite beautiful, one for a Rhino and one for a Horse. All the masks are illuminated by lights strung through them and the effect is quite striking. The masks are worn by the actor as he assumes various roles, including a heavy metal Rhino, throughout the play. The actor also goes unmasked when playing a human reporter who functions as a sort of Greek Chorus, commenting on the action and explaining some of the back story.
The play is set in a world were Rhinos are the dominant species, humans have recently emancipated themselves from servitude, and Horses are still oppressed. The Rhinos have become increasingly nationalistic and now wish to pave over the meadows the horses live on to construct roads. As the Rhinos crack down on dissent, nationalistic fervour is stoked, and tragedy follows.
Unusually, the play has practically no lighting, with almost all light being provided by the lights in the masks and a small light for the human reporter. The low light and the masks mean you get no glimpse of facial expression, and often not a clear view of body movement. This means all the excitement and energy must come solely from the actor's voice. At times I found that energy flagging, and sitting in the dark for 50 minutes didn't help.
The play is an interesting concept with lots of thought put into the masks and the plot, but the energy does wane from time to time. It's an interesting show that you might enjoy, but not on my must-see list.
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