Summary of the Play

Rhinoceros (French original title Rhinocéros) is a play by Eugène Ionesco, written in 1959. The play belongs to the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd.

The inhabitants of a town turn into rhinoceroses; ultimately the only human who does not succumb to this mass metamorphosis is a flustered everyman figure who is often criticized throughout the play for his drinking and tardiness. The play is often read as a response to the sudden upsurge of Fascism during the events preceding World War II.

The play explores the themes of conformity, culture, philosophy, and morality. Issues which are increasingly relevant in today’s changing socio-political landscape.

Rhinoceros _ 01

Director’s Note

 Adishakti’s Rhinoceros

 This play from the theatre of the absurd becomes relevant in a world where the collective suggestion shrinks the individual’s subjective space. Attacked by both the politically correct and the incorrect, this space, which is one of originality and newness, has no margins left.
We should be wary of that. 
Vinay Kumar

Stills from the production:



The Rhinoceros Dance

Act 1

A Rhinoceros runs through town and disturbs the inhabitants. Two friends Jean and Beranger, who see this happen quarrel about the features and antecedents of the Rhinoceros. Soon another Rhinoceros runs through town and kills a cat. Beranger along with others present debates the features and antecedents of the animal with a logician.

Act 2

An office in the town the next day. A debate occurs about the Rhinoceros’ appearance of the previous day. Beranger and his girl friend Daisy along with a social cynic, Botard, and their boss Dudard, debate this event.

Suddenly the wife of one of their colleagues appears to beg leave of absence from work for her husband as he is ill. She has been chased all the way by a Rhinoceros. The Rhinoceros destroys much of the office in its attempt to join her on the first floor of the office. The Rhinoceros is her husband. She jumps on to his back and rides away. The rest of the office staff are left stranded and bemused by these events.

Act 3

Beranger visits his friend Jean to apologize for his role in their quarrel. Jean is ill. Soon it becomes apparent that Jean is fast and happily becoming a Rhinoceros. Beranger is appalled. By now he is developing a definite philosophy about why people should not become Rhinoceros’.

Jean becomes a Rhinoceros in front of Beranger’s horrified eyes.

Act 4

Almost everyone in town has become a Rhinoceros. Only Beranger, his girl friend Daisy and their boss Dudard are left. Beranger is now vehemently opposed to becoming a Rhinoceros. But Dudard decides to become one and Daisy follows soon after.

Act 5

Beranger is left all alone. He finds his loneliness unbearable. But, it is too late now; he cannot become a Rhinoceros. He decides to put up a fight against the Rhinoceros majority.


Cast & credits


Berenger: Arjun Shankar

Jean: Vinay Kumar

Daisy:  Nimmy Raphel

Dudard: Suresh Kaliyath

Botard: Arvind Rane

Housewife: Veenapani Chawla

Logician:  Nimmy Raphel

Old Gent: Suresh Kaliyath

Proprietor: Arvind Rane

Mrs. Boef (Voice): Veenapani Chawla


Light Operator: Anoop Davis

Sound Operator: Deepa Suresh

Costumes: Veenapani Chawla

Choreography, Light Design, Sound and Sets & Direction: Vinay Kumar

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