The Zoo Story, written by Edward Albee, is a captivating play that touches on many social discourses and takes the audience on an intelligent journey through a conversation between two strangers.
The play starts with Peter sitting on a bench in New York’s Central Park reading quietly to himself when Jerry wanders by and intentionally starts up a conversation. Peter is unwittingly caught up in Jerry’s ramblings, caught between politeness, voyeurism and genuine interest.
Peter is a regular, happily married, middle-class man with a wife, 2 kids and a few animals. Jerry is a single man with very little in the way of possessions and lives in a much seedier world. Their conversation traverses the disparity between those who have, and those who have not, and intelligently comments on the mechanisms that the capitalist world imposes that make things the way they are.
Jerry is clearly unhinged, on the edge, and seeking a way to make sense of a very messed up world. Peter, on the other hand, is very straight and conservative. However, by the time the play ends Peter loses his grip on his normal reality and gets sucked in to Jerry’s craziness to a shocking conclusion.
The dialogue of The Zoo Story is captivating, with only two men on stage performing intense monologues that touch on emotion so keenly that at one moment the audience is laughing along, and at the next is tense and anxious. The setting of the Space Theatre was perfect; placing the audience in close proximity to the action and encouraging engagement in the tense and humorous moments.
The State Theatre production of the play, with a cast of Renato Musolino as Jerry and Brendan Rock as Peter, was excellent. Both actors performed their roles excellently and with convincing New Yorker accents. Musolino in particular was brilliant with a glint of crazy intellect in his eye, and a passion that befitted his character perfectly.
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