Home » London Theatre Reviews » Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns? Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023

Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns? Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023

Believe it or not, I hadn’t tied a balloon in so long that having successfully blown one up, I had to give up and let one of the cast sort it out for me, in what was one of the simplest, and yet, at least for me, insurmountable audience participation tasks I’ve ever come across. The other one in this show was even easier: take a biscuit (or not, if you didn’t want one), and pass the packet along. I managed that one.

Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns?
Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns?

Chan (Cheryl Ho) and Bella (Shannen Tan) are doing a radio show about rhinos, which is itself interrupted by an urgent news broadcast about, ironically enough, a herd of rhinos that has escaped from the zoo. Singapore, where the play’s production company Gangguan! is from and where the play is set, being a city-state, is placed on high alert, with citizens advised not to directly approach any rhinos they encounter. In a hilarious interview with an ‘expert’ who gives terse and non-committal answers to a journalist’s questions, under polite but persistent questioning she finally reveals the best thing to do is exercise common sense.

The play itself is a mixture of radio and television journalism and slide decks of written text. The latter sometimes contains the writers’ thoughts on almost anything from the sheer number of standup comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe (a side note about the history of standup revealed things I wasn’t aware of) to the contradictions and imponderables of the National Arts Council, Singapore’s (sort of) equivalent to Arts Council England or Creative Scotland. It’s sufficiently amusing, although ultimately, I’m not entirely sure how much it really added to the main narrative.

Interestingly, news reporters are just as committed to being in dangerous places, close to the action as possible, in South-East Asia as they are in the West. Some of the sound effects are created in a way in which radio shows have been known to create them – the scrunching of a plastic bag, for instance, denotes nearby rhinoceroses eating leaves from trees. Eventually, public concern ramps up as it transpires some people are somehow turning into rhinos themselves, with no discernible method of avoiding such a fate. I take the view a punchline was missed: surely you don’t, in this day and age, have to turn into a rhino to be a rhino – you merely have to identify as one.

Anyway, this show proved to be as entertaining as it was informative, and as absurd as it was thoughtful.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Rhinoceroses or capybaras? Blackpink or something less cling clangy? Two old friends are making a radio play for the Internet people of Singapore. This week’s episode is about the ‘rhinoceritis’ epidemic in the 1980s, where rhinos are inexplicably taking over the village turning-metropolis.

Do Rhinos Feel Their Horns? (or can they not see them like how we can’t see our noses) is a play rooted in Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, which re-asks what conformism means as we live through what is objectively the best time in human history. It is funny, bleak, sometimes joyous, but always full of play. Tune in for mild jokes with a side of foley effects.

Team
Playwright: Edward Eng
Director: Adeeb Fazah
Cast: Shannen Tan, Cheryl Ho
Sound Design: Vick Low
Producer: Shien Hian Lim
Listings
Summerhall – Red Lecture Theatre
15 – 27 Aug (excl. 21 Aug)
https://www.gangguantheatre.com/

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