The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

Rinoċeronti: Ionesco’s Theatre of the Absurd come to the Maltese stage

Wednesday, 11 September 2019, 09:18 Last update: about 10 days ago

Teatru Malta is now just a few days away from premiering Rinoċeronti, a Maltese adaptation of celebrated playwright Eugene Ionesco's absurdly hilarious Rhinoceros. Rehearsals are well underway, and director Michael Fenech is up to no good as he attempts to bring this hysterical Rhinoceros invasion to life in the Esplora Planetarium hall in Kalkara between 12 and 15 September. The Malta Independent on Sunday sits down with actors André Mangion, Kim Dalli and Anthony Ellul, to get to the bottom of this infectious epidemic.

What drew you to audition for Rinoceronti?

Mangion: Rinoceronti is a renowned play and the possibility of playing one of the characters intrigued me. Coupled with that was the fact that it was being translated in Maltese.

Dalli: One word - Ionesco. I am an avid admirer of Theatre of the Absurd and knew that this was a rare occasion where Ionesco play would be performed locally. So I jumped at the opportunity and took the...erm...rhinoceros by its horn and auditioned!


Tell us more about your characters...

Mangion: Playing Jean means being a gentleman who is full of himself and needs everything to be in order....including his beloved friend Berenger. I think Jean is quite an interesting character which gives me, the actor, a lot to work with. He is comical, eccentric and tragic all at the same time. I just hope to do him justice on stage next week.

Ellul: I play Botard. He is an ex-teacher and is a very pompous person, thinks he knows it all and is very suspicious of those around him at the office. He is the union's steward and tries to go against the current although in reality he acts this way just to enjoy contradicting others just because he gets a kick out of being more intelligent than they are.

Dalli: I play the Waitress - and I'm having a whale of a time with her! She has a rather strained relationship with her boss and is bullied around a lot, but there's also a duality to her in terms of how she politely addresses customers versus her inner, rougher self. I get to play a lot with voice and body language, and that's always fun. I also make a cameo as an old lady later in the play!

What makes this play, which Ionesco (first performed in 1959) relevant to a Maltese audience in 2019?

Mangion: Obviously rhinoceroses! Can't you see them? - No, but really I think when one starts to look beyond the animal and begins to formulate what's really behind the text and the Rhinoceros, there is a very articulate description of the dangers of being complacent.

Ellul: Even though people assume that they are all different from one another, they all, or most, end up falling victim to the very same system. Today we have become consumed by an obsession with the media and social networking. These distractions did not exist in Ionesco's time, but despite all this ''progress'', most people still do not use their own minds to draw conclusions but simply choose to believe what they are told by others, the media and all the social media they depend on without question. When you believe without question, then we all suffer the same fate as the characters in this play. We're all just a horde of rhinoceros.

Dalli: The play is extremely comical and entertaining. However, it is also ultimately a commentary on the phenomenon of ideological contagion and the surrender of human individuality and intelligence to herd-like conformity. Trump, fake news, Brexit - anyone?

The rest of this talented cast needs no introduction: Rinoċeronti stars Daniel Azzopardi, Naomi Said, Antonella Axisa, Magda von Kuilenburg, Michael Mangion, Joe Depasquale, Simon Curmi, Aaron Fenech and Daniela Carabott Pawley. For four nights only the Planetarium hall will be transformed into a surreal town, where everything is turned upside down. The clever script, translated by literary favourites Clare Azzopardi and Albert Gatt, paired with the eye catching animations of Rodney Gauci projected to screen make for the perfect backdrop to this stellar cast.

If you're up for a laugh this September then you know what to do. Seating is limited! For €20/€15 tickets and more information visit or call Teatru Malta on 21220255

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