Review: The Zoo Story (Two Wolves Theatre)

The Zoo Story – September 21st to the 24th at the Cameron House – is the latest production of Two Wolves.

Since inception a couple of years ago, Two Wolves has chosen works that have beat a trail off the worn path of realism.

So this selection, written by the American Edward Albee, a playwright celebrated for a body of work that contains ferocious honesty and often bends conventions in theatre, would seem to be a natural pick.

The stage, which is in a humble space at the rear of the Cameron House, was set with two benches.

The premise of the play is as elementary as the set is.

When the lights come-up, a dapper-looking fellow, played by Jesse Watts, reads a book on one of the benches, when a garrulous character, played by Jason Siks, interrupts him.

And then, the latter goes on to share a lot of his life without provocation.

The key to describing this play is, I think, stressing that the mild-mannered gentleman does not explicitly provoke the rambunctious storyteller.

So Jerry, the latter character, has nearly full – if not total – control over what happens.

What seems to drive Jerry is a need to explicate his own giddy curiosity and bottomless disappointment with the world. And this gives Mr. Albee an opportunity to imbue Jerry with some startling insights.

Memorably, for example, Jerry describes his (appalling? compassionate? desperate?) relationship to an unpleasant dog, that belongs to the landlady of the rooming house where he stays.

Mr. Siks’ delivery was perfect, I think.

Mr. Siks nails the syntax, the roaming sequence of Jerry’s words, and his rhythm and volume were comfortable.

More importantly I think, Mr. Siks works up a frothy lather of energy and emotion in The Zoo Story. And seems to totally absorb the character of Jerry.

Mr. Watts, Mr. Siks counterpart onstage, ably plays the dapper man.

Mr. Watts has considerably fewer lines than Mr. Siks. Mostly he acts as the keen listener, a bemused grin on his face

As the end of the play approaches though, the demands of his character go up. And, I think Mr. Watts rose to the occasion.

Eli Jenkins, the director, must also be noted as a significant contributor to this production.

Though I know little of directing, I can safely bet that the clarity of the performances, nifty use of such a petite performance space, and an ending – which I won’t spoil – that is executed flawlessly, didn’t just happen on its own.

Good work all around. I’d strongly recommend this production of The Zoo Story.

Details:

In photo: Jason Siks and Jesse Watts.

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