BOTTOM LINE: A theatrical drinking game, or the best thing you can do with your Monday night.
Theatre can offer many things: social commentary, intellectual stimulation, historical insight, cathartic release. But sometimes its aim is entertainment, just a right good time for everyone involved. Tiny Rhino is deliberately in this latter group. This is not to say that it can’t be more substantial, but when it is it’s just a bonus.
Each month, the gorgeous Brooklyn Lyceum hosts a night of short plays, all written specifically for this occasion. The plays' subjects and themes are unrestricted, however each must include five specific elements, and these comprise the “drinking game rules.” The night I attended, the “rules” included: 1) Someone trips and falls; 2) Someone gives the finger; 3) Someone imitates a famous person; 4) Someone comments on the temperature; 5) Someone explains their dream. With drink in hand you watch the plays and following traditional drinking game rules: when you see one of these elements occur you drink. The night is broken into three acts, with three intermissions, also known as the time you refill your cup. Drink prices are cheap (your first is included with your ticket purchase) and the selection is impressive for a card-table bar.
As for the work itself, the emphasis is on the event, not so much on the creation of substantive art. And because of this, all the plays have a certain self-awareness (i.e. a character might trip and fall repeatedly, thus making the audience take multiple drinks). All of the contributors to Tiny Rhino are talented and capable theatre artists, and for this event they are able to unleash an extra silliness that satisfies a boisterous gathering of friendly audience members. Still, some plays maintain a more formal aesthetic, and some indicate what could be the beginning of a satisfying and more complete work down the road. All in all, it’s a very fun time.
Tiny Rhino commissions new playwrights each month. The night I attended, I saw work from Kendra Levin, Solomon Strul, Deen, Yoni Sallmander, Tatiana Suarez-Pico and Justin Shipley. The directors rotate as well, and most bring in casts from their own rolodexes. The result is a constantly rotating group of artists, and I imagine this provides a certain freshness every month. However, the event is curated by the same folks each time, led by UglyRhino’s artistic directors Nicole Rosner and Danny Sharron, so there is a cohesion built into the system.
For very little money you can be in the company of talented artists developing work for the fun of it, having a drink and participating in a game that celebrates the theatre. It’s probably true that Tiny Rhino gets more fun as the night progresses (and as you drink more), but all stars align at the Brooklyn Lyceum at this incredibly satisfying monthly event.
(Tiny Rhino plays at Littlefield, 622 Degraw, in Brooklyn. The next performance is June 26, 2013 at 8PM. Tickets are $10 and include your first drink. Purchase tickets at the door. For more info visit uglyrhinonyc.com.)