Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns or Can They Not See Them Like How We Can't See Our Noses

Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns or Can They Not See Them Like How We Can't See Our Noses may be in the running for the Fringe’s wackiest title and the show itself is an equally playful joy to watch. A self-professed riff on Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist satire of fascism, Rhinoceros, the company runs wild with artistic licence.

If we have to live through another pandemic I hope it’s as fun as this one

Two friends (played by Cheryl Ho and Shannen Tan) record a radio show about an epidemic of “rhinoceritis” that hit Singapore in the 80s. At first the sudden arrival of rhinos in town reads as a metaphor for fairly standard social shifts and tensions between the young and old in a time of industrialisation. The spectre of Covid looms large with the discovery that the rhinos used to be humans, and our reporters are eager to assure us that this “is definitely not a disease or contagion”. Much of the show feels like an exercise in media manipulation, with the cast fabricating sound effects to transport us from a zoo to a cafe to a riot with little more than a microphone, some balloons, and their bodies. It could easily remain as a commentary on hypernormalisation and manufactured consent but the company isn't content with such a simple conceit, shifting the focus to animal rights, dehumanisation, and capitalism.

There’s little doubt that prior knowledge of Singapore’s history and politics would make for an even richer reading of the play but the company provides more than enough to chew on. Our radio hosts provide an ever-shifting narrative in which nothing can ever really be believed.

The real achievement is that they do all this armed with rhino masks, sweets for the audience, and a game of keepy-uppy with balloons. It’s playful, political, specifically Singaporean but speaks to the world we live in. If we have to live through another pandemic, I hope it’s as fun as this one.

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Reviews by William Heraghty

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Performances

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The Blurb

What if the reason I don't like capitalism is that I just wanna chill out a bit? Rhinoceroses or capybaras? Black-pink or something less cling-clangy? Two friends make a radio play for the internet; this week's episode is about the 1980s "Rhinoceritis" epidemic. A Singaporean production rooted in Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns? re-asks what conformism means as we live through what is objectively the best time in history. It is funny, bleak, sometimes joyous, and always full of play.

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