Saturday, July 20, 2013

AT HOME AT THE ZOO



Written by Edward Albee
 Directed by Tanya Gruber
Something Borrowed Theatre
Smith’s Alternative, July 18 - 20, 2013

Review by Len Power 18 July 2013

‘We should talk.’  That ominous opening line of Edward Albee’s play, ‘At Home At The Zoo’, sets the scene for a mild-mannered young husband’s two very unsettling conversations, first with his wife at home and then a short time later with a strange fellow he meets while reading on a park bench.  The play is a disturbing study of alienation, loneliness and miscommunication with flashes of black humour here and there.

Fifty years on, Edward Albee added a first act to his 1958 one-act play, ‘Zoo Story’.  The new act gives an added depth to the themes running through the play.  This is Canberra’s new Something Borrowed Theatre’s first production at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop, an intimate space which worked well for this small-cast play.

John Lombard, who plays the central character of the husband, gives a believably understated, controlled and ultimately very moving performance.  Kate Blackhurst, as his wife, strongly plays every facet of a woman who says one thing but means another and Graham August is outstanding in his portrayal of an initially quirky young man with an increasingly dark underside.  The actors’ sense of timing and their non-verbal interactions with each other are especially notable.

Director, Tanya Gruber, has provided her cast with very well-paced direction and wisely keeps movement on the small stage by the characters to a bare minimum.  However, the decision not to use American accents was questionable given the strongly American sensibility of the characters.  Nevertheless, this is an electrifying and very satisfying production.

Originally published in Canberra City News digital edition 19 July 2013

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