theater (reviews)

review: tigers be still

Tigers Be Still

By Kim Rosenstock
Directed by Sam Gold
Featuring Reed Birney, Halley Feiffer, Natasha Lyonne, John Magaro
Roundabout Theatre Company, Steinberg Center Underground, 111 W 46th Street
production web site:
http://www.roundaboutunderground.com/
limited engagement

Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
September 25, 2010

Sherry (Halley Feiffer) and Grace (Natasha Lyonne)

Stakes of the story appear at first to be about a roaming tiger escaped from an area zoo (shades of leopards and Bringing Up Baby), or about barking chihuahuas locked in the household basement.  But the stakes of this new play are in reality focused on whether to summon up the courage to move into one’s future, which may involve doubling back and visiting one’s past.  And the play is a delight.

Sherry (Halley Feiffer) is about to start a new job as an art teacher in a public high school.  Depressed mom Wanda (off stage) has been in her room for months; sister Grace (Natasha Lyonne) has spent a few months in a track suit and with running mascara, eating Entenmann’s cake, drinking whiskey from the bottle, attempts to get over the fact that her fiancée has left her.  Joseph (Reed Birney), the principal of Sherry’s new school, has a past to reconcile with Sherry and Grace’s mother, and his son Zack (John Magaro) has his own adolescent and other pain to endure and get past and onto the rest of his life.

The proscenium set up in this little black box subterranean space locates us in an unfinished, two-by-four and pink insulation-exposed world. A carpeted suburban living room with well-worn (and lived upon) couch and nearby table hosts most of the action.  Smart dialog, intelligent surprises, believable small town developments, truly funny moments.  A story that bears retelling, with delightful and committed performances, created by a writing voice that needs to be heard.

© Martha Wade Steketee (September 28, 2010)

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