The Zoo Story by Edward Albee

Dates and Venue 15 - 18 April and 22 - 25 April 2009, 7 pm | Second Beach in Stanley Park

Reviewer Barry Arnett

A bench at Stanley Park’s Second Beach was a natural setting for Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story (1958) which was his first play as an adult playwright. After critical praise in Germany, it opened off-Broadway in 1960, with a strong impact on critics and audiences alike.

The story is about a young man (Jerry), consumed with loneliness who starts up a conversation with another man (Peter) on a bench in Central Park. Peter is comfortably reading a book and clearly wants to be alone. Jerry announces that he has been to the Zoo and drops hints about its link to tomorrow’s news. “You will read about it in the papers tomorrow if you don’t see it in the on TV tonight.” This is typical Albee, talking in circles, never to the point.

Jerry’s life is a zoo as he describes his life, seedy, without parents or friends. His prolonged attempt to win over his landlady’s dog, which clearly hates him, typifies Jerry’s existence. After many attempts to win over the dog with hamburger meals, the dog does not change his attitude and Jerry resorts to poisoned meat. Even this fails as the dog survives.

Jerry learns that Peter lives on the fashionable Eastside and makes good money as a textbook publisher. He has one wife, two daughters, two cats, and two parakeets. Jerry easily guesses that Peter would rather have dogs and sons, a truth that Peter admits to. The conversation is one-sided and the audience wonders, “What is Jerry’s motive?” The unease that builds within Peter leads to anger and threats of violence to get rid of Jerry. Jerry does not budge, he keeps on at Peter until……..

One wonders if this is how we will bridge the gap between rich and poor, class differences, advantaged and disadvantaged in the future. As we communicate more with technology, modern society could be mirrored in these two characters’ encounter and interaction and the conclusion? A disturbing thought.

Both actors give solid performances.The setting is very good as the audience can sit under the covered picnic area.

The Zoo Story stars Colby Wilson as Peter and Sebastien Archibald as Jerry. ITSAZOO Productions is dedicated to producing progressive theatre outside the traditional playhouse setting, producing fun, affordable and innovative theatre. It was founded in 2004 by five classmates of the University of Victoria Theatre Program.

© 2009 Barry Arnett