WHEN a rhinoceros suddenly appears in a French market town the inhabitants are naturally shocked.

But this is not an escapee from a local zoo and, after more of the animals appear on the streets, the truth about the phenomenon emerges, posing the question — can anyone stop them taking over?

The story will unfold when Abingdon Drama Club performs the play, Rhinoceros, by Eugene Ionesco, at the Unicorn Theatre, Medieval Abbey Buildings, Checker Walk, Abingdon, from Wednesday to Saturday, March 28 to 31, at 7.30pm.

Written in 1959, the play belongs to the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd. It is often seen as a response to the upsurge of Communism, Fascism and Nazism before the Second World War, exploring the themes of conformity, culture, mass movements, philosophy and morality.

The show features a cast of 11, with the leading roles being played by the club’s chairman Michael Ward, who was last seen on stage in the club’s 2010 version of An Experiment with an Air Pump and directed its autumn 2011 show The Turn of the Screw, and Andrea Mardon, leader of Abingdon Drama Club Juniors, who was last seen on stage in The Turn of the Screw.

Rhinoceros was first performed in 1960, with the UK premiere directed by Orson Welles and starring Lawrence Olivier and Joan Plowright. The club is performing Martin Crimp’s new translation which premièred at the Royal Court Theatre in 2007, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the leading role.

Director Liz Adams said: “Rhinoceros offers a fabulous combination of fast-paced comedy, intriguing plot and dark comment on the dangers of conformity and ‘following the herd’.

“It has something for every audience member, providing both great entertainment and food for thought.

“The new translation by Martin Crimp emphasises both the humour and the ideas of play, and gives a contemporary feel to this classic work.”

Liz’s last show for the drama club as director was Diane Samuels’ play Kindertransport in 2011.

Tickets £8 and £7 concessions can be bought in person from The Bookstore, Abbey Shopping Centre, Bury Street, Abingdon, online via the club’s website at: www.abingdon-drama-club.com, or on the door.