New York | 2h 0m | Already closed

Rhinoceros (New Yiddish Rep)

From 12 critic and 5 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Clever, Relevant, Resonant, Profound

About the show

New Yiddish Rep presents the Yiddish world premiere of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist classic about a small French village whose inhabitants start transforming into rhinos. More…

The sublime is merged with the ridiculous in this savage commentary on the human condition as an individual citizen of a small town watches his friends turn into rhinoceroses one by one until he alone stands unchanged. Nearly 60 years since its debut, 'Rhinoceros' remains a startling allegory, as darkly comedic as it is terrifying. Performed in Yiddish with English supertitles.

2h 0m | Already closed | Castillo Theatre (Midtown W)

Theater Pizzazz

"Mamma mia! Wotta production! Wotta performance! Profound. Touching. And even more contemporary now than when it was written...I found the New Yiddish Rep’s production remarkable...I am totally thrilled with the New Yiddish Rep’s ability to find actors who grew up speaking Yiddish and act as well as this cast...Bravo for your emotional clarity. Rosen and Twersky are especially commendable...Yassur’s superb direction was elegant, spare and direct, even-handed...An exquisite production." Full Review

A Work Unfinishing

“The new translation, both its Yiddish and English versions, is acutely aware of the frightening parallels to be drawn to the political climate today…Director Moshe Yassur and translator Eli Rosen are aware of the obvious parallels, and so treat them with a light but conscious hand, so that the play feels neither didactic nor trivial…The ensemble works well together, embracing the heightened style with panache.” Full Review

Roberta on the Arts

“This is a synthesized adaptation and one that’s very effective in showcasing the terror of rising neofascism...I was engrossed throughout, especially thinking of the week’s nightly real and comedic newscasts, and the actual existential dread building that societal transformation into quasi-rhinoceroses is not such an imaginary possibility. Kudos to New Yiddish Rep for this timely and courageous production.” Full Review

The New York Times

"Even though Moshe Yassur’s production has a hazy, haphazard feel, in times like ours, a story about ordinary people seduced by fascist overtures seems too, well, on the nose...The production still felt provisional, with...a general uncertainty as to how broadly to play the roles. There did not seem to be enough rhinoceros masks to go around and the supertitles flipped back and forth as actors fumbled for lines...Still, it’s worth seeing 'Rhinoceros' for a few of its actors." Full Review

Theater Life

"Though Vassur’s production doesn’t rise to the level of 'God of Vengeance,' this rare revival is an opportunity to experience the playwright’s classic comedy of the absurd, which boasts a contemporary translation...with references to current events...With its themes about the human condition, philosophy, mortality, mob mentality, and conformity...Ionesco lightens the message by merging the sublime with the ridiculous." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Ionesco in Yiddish is a brilliant idea, but the execution leaves something to be desired...Twersky works furiously to carry the weight of this talky, cerebral comedy on his slight shoulders. It’s too bad that the direction, provided by Yassur, is so insufficient. The actors are all exceedingly game, but their blocking frequently feels awkward...Even a just-okay staging of 'Rhinoceros' is entertaining,’s disappointing that the text and the cast aren’t better served." Full Review


"Yassur's direction is bold and intelligent. Rosen's translation is clear...Unfortunately most of the performances are delivered in one mode: whiny, angsty, and loud...As the play's prime character, Twersky spent the bulk of his time mugging at maximum volume regardless of what was happening...The musicality of language and nuances found in measuring a breakdown between insanity and reality were missing. Despite that, the illustration of the play's themes...was clear." Full Review


"There's something ironic about New Yiddish Rep's production of 'Rhinoceros,' an allegory on the rise of fascism. After all, the Yiddish speakers were the victims, not the perpetrators of the Nazi atrocities...One has the feeling Berenger's passion and Daisy's faintheartedness are much more ridiculous in French...While it's not evident that this Yiddish translation adds anything to Ionesco's original work, it certainly is a faithful translation of his tragic message." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"A surprisingly lackluster production...The play falls well short of its admirable goals...The translation is too obvious in making connections to contemporary America, and the staging is static and uninvolving. What could have been intimate instead separates the two parts of the crowd and creates a distance from the actors...Never finds the right balance between absurdity and reality, getting caught in the middle, as if blinded by the dust of the stampeding animals." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"I wish I could report that this 'Rhinoceros' provides valuable insight on America’s current, tempest-tossed political life...The play’s premise doesn’t seem so outlandish to generations that have grown used to savage and surreal social and political satire. Also, Ionesco stretches his analogy out in scenes that can seem repetitive and, frankly, tedious...Yassur’s direction seems slack...A farce calls for speed and energy, but here the effect is often slow and enervating." Full Review


“For the most part, the performances are impressive especially in light of the fact that many of these actors are newcomers…But cutting edge as this play was in its day, today it feels heavy-handed, repetitive and, passé…Clearly the theatrical intent throughout is to hint at some kind of universality: oppression can exist anytime anywhere and must be resisted. But the result on stage does not conjure up universality at all, just a lack of definition and cohesion.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“It's easy enough to agree that the play's focus…is and will remain apposite…However, the production…, lacking anything even approaching first-class direction and acting…rapidly descends into a lengthy talkfest…The New Yiddish Rep production…is simply unworthy of the play…The blocking is about as clumsy and unorchestrated as can be imagined; the actors, unsure of themselves, stand around or move aimlessly; there's no sense of place, and the pacing is erratic: the result is artistically dismal.” Full Review

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Clever, Strong lead performances, Uneven pacing

See it if You appreciate pungent political metaphors and want to support Yiddish theater.

Don't see it if You are irritated by absurdist plays or don’t want to read supertitles.

Also Certainly topical today, and the choice to translate this classic into... Read more Read less

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You're looking for something different, you enjoy Theatre of the Absurd or you speak Yiddish.

Don't see it if You can't handle supertitles or you don't like absurd dramas

Quirky, Funny, Clever, Profound, Resonant

See it if You speak Yiddish, you want to see a really unique classic in a unique interpretation and in an intimate setting.

Don't see it if You can't follow Yiddish or supertitles. If you don't like theater of the absurd.

Absorbing, Great acting, Dizzying, Clever, Ambitious

See it if You can see the parallel between the play's theme and what happened in the 1930's -- and what may seem to be happening now. Great acting!

Don't see it if You are expecting a play from which you'll emerge smiling.

Also See it if...... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you are interested in propaganda and uniformity.

Don't see it if you have difficulties with subtitles.

Cast & Creatives (15)