With just two characters and two park benches, The Zoo Story holds up a magnifying glass to the human condition. The dynamics between the two protagonists: erratic, confrontational Jerry and mild, conventional Peter, are arresting attention is focused upon the personal development provoked by chance meeting in Central Park. Their dialogue flits between conventional banality, “it’s a nice day”, and absurd neurosis, which conjures up Peter’s “parakeets making dinner”. Evidently Peter’s tranquil veneer belies a darker disatisfaction and the arrival of the penetrating stranger reveals the deficits in his family life with irrevocable consequences. Jerry’s development serves as a sinister parallel as his ecstatic glee depicting the attempted slaughter of his landlady’s dog conceals more disquieting desire for own extermination which must climax as the play reaches resolution. With plot and scenery as minimal as this, actors must necessarily have outstanding command and this production does not disappoint. Spencer Wong exquisitely captures Jerry’s intense, yet childlike neurosis, while equally powerfully Jason Wool provides the vital counterpoise in the ostensibly staid, and slightly lofty Peter. As the play approaches its fatal dénouement we realise the significance of the animal imagery which is shot through the entire play: as they crescendo to climax, we realise with sickening culpability that the microscope extends towards us and we too are caught behind the bars of the zoo.
ARCHIVE: 3rd Week TT 2003

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