[It's by Eugene Ionesco, whose name sounds familiar but none of whose work I recognize.]
So I have now increased my North Shore excursioning (111 bus to the Chelsea Waterfront; hello hour and a half of travel time). The directions for getting there were pretty solid, though the return less so (NB: Third St. = Everett St.).
The play itself?
Short version: While interesting, it didn't really do it for me.
The first two acts set the stage for a variety of social critiques, while the second two acts focused on a different social critique. There were some witty lines, and even some insights, but it didn't hold together for me.
Other commentary, including lines from the play:
The logician made my brain bleed. "Socrates is a cat" is classic, so that was funny, except still with the brain bleeding. ("Yes, I have a cat named Socrates" was the perfect response, though.)
"Logic means justice." -the logician
This could have gone really creepy places, but the whole logic thing was dropped in the latter half of the play -- as was Jean's whole push for the government to do something about the rhinoceroses (I was having flashes of An Enemy of the People or something).
"But now the problem has been properly posed." -the logician
I can definitely see this as a critique of certain quarters of elitist academia or whatever, but the whole one vs. two horn issue went on too long for my taste. And again, it was dropped in the latter half of the play.
"The fact that I despise religion doesn't mean I don't esteem it highly."
There was "Botard" and "Dudard" and damned if I could remember which one was which. I mean, it was easy to keep the characters straight, but I could never remember which one had which name.
"We're not in school."
Berenger [after he slapped Daisy]: "I don't know what came over me."
Daisy: "You ran out of arguments."
Berenger: "In just a few minutes we've passed through 25 years of marriage."
On the one hand, this felt rather brilliant to me... and on the other, their entire coupledom felt pastede on. She kept telling whasshisface emphatically that she was just a "good friend" of Berenger's, and then as soon as he left she was all "The two of us together forever against the world!" with Berenger. Her change of heart re: the rhinoceroses felt fairly in character but still rushed. Oh, and Berenger's blame-heaping (on himself mostly, but also on others, like Daisy's rejection of Mr. Papillon) got really tiring.
My understanding is that the play is supposed to be a criticism of conformity or whatever, but the ambiguity regarding the voluntariness of the change was a real stumbling block for me in terms of reading/understanding the play as a social critique.
So come today I asked Eric for what/why he liked the play. The response I got was basically "I saw it years ago. I don't remember why I liked it; I just remember that I liked it."
"I'm not asking for a line by line defense of the play," I said -- to which he replied good thing because there's no way I would get that from him. The most I got from him was "It's chaotic. I like chaos."
RA and I walked back to the Square together after work today, and we talked about our weekends and so talking about the play got into the Eric conversation as well, and I talked about how bizarre it was because my friends tend to be fairly obsessive and will talk at length and in great detail about movies, books, tv, whatever. (See also the pulling teeth nature of my post-lunch follow-up with Eric about the movie Stigmata -- which I haven't seen, though he has -- and the Gospel of Thomas.)
She said: "That's why your friends are your friends and your coworkers are your coworkers. Basically, that's why you don't go to the movies with Eric."