Eugene Ionesco was one of the chief exponents of the Theatre of the Absurd. In work after work, the Romanian-born French playwright (1909-1994) depicted the ridiculous, futile existence of humans in an unpredictable universe, who, because of their innate limitations, cannot communicate with one another. This pessimistic philosophy was the tenet of the Theatre of the Absurd. Although Ionesco's intent was serious as he railed against the senselessness of the human condition, his plays are rich in humor.
His first play, The Bald Soprano, was produced in 1950 and launched the beginning of a prolific career. He wrote a total of 28 plays, including The Lesson (1951), The Chairs (1952), and Rhinoceros (1959), perhaps his best-known work. In Rhinoceros, all the people in a small town are transformed into rhinoceroses except for Berenger, the central character. Berenger was something of an alter ego for the playwright, and he also appears in The Killer (1958), A Stroll in the Air (1963), and as the doomed monarch in Exit the King (1962); collectively, these four plays make up the "Berenger Cycle."
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