Posts Tagged ‘theater’

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Kevin Tighe Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Kevin Tighe as the Bengal Tiger. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Friday, our friends Sean and Lindsay invited us to go see “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” at the Mark Taper Forum. We don’t go to the theater much, so were excited to go out and see and do something new.

The critically acclaimed play (it’s up for a Pulitzer) centers around two soldiers, a tiger and an Iraqi translator in Baghdad during the Iraq War, and the characters are all dealing with their own existential crises and ghosts.

The tiger, played by Kevin Tighe wearing raggedy clothes is the first indication that this play will be something different. In the first scene, he paces in his cage, ranting about life in the zoo and during war-time, dropping profanities left and right. Things quickly take a turn for the worst when one of the soldiers guarding the tiger taunts him with food and the tiger bites off his hand.

As the characters try to accept their fates and deal with their emotional traumas, the play manages to be simultaneously funny and painful, giving a glimpse into the tragic absurdities of war and the stressors that cause people to act out or go mad. “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” is engaging throughout, it feels fresh and original and it’s deeply affecting.

Its simple set is also very impressive, using some ingenious lighting techniques to use turn one static backdrop into an office, a zoo, a garden, the desert, the night sky, a hospital and more.

I went into the play with no information as to what it’s about, so I don’t want to say too much, but “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” is at the Mark Taper Forum until May 30, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Watch videos, learn more and buy tickets.

Fun Foray Into Indie Theater: ‘Months on End’

Friday, Evan and I went to support our friend Aaron in a play. We didn’t know what to expect — the last time I went to support a friend of a friend in a play, he only showed up in the last scene and played a mute. Seriously. In any case, our experience Friday couldn’t have been more different.

We showed up at the Tre Stage, upstairs in a strip mall at La Brea and Sunset, and were greeted at the door by a nice little crowd of theater-goers. We paid our $15 and were immediately offered a glass of wine at no charge. We soon got to go into the theater itself, a small room, painted black, with two rows of bench seats in an ‘L’ around the stage.

After passing the wine bottles around again for pre-show refills, the lights dimmed in the intimate black box theater, and the show started with a short slide show and music.

As suggested by the title, “Months on End,” the play follows a year in the life of its characters — relatives and friends — whose lives are all intertwined. It starts with a New Year’s Eve party in January, and introduces the characters a few at a time, month-by-month, as their stories unfold. We were given glimpses of relationships growing and of others falling apart, the anxieties of twentysomethings, and the ways our lives can change instantly.

There are some laugh-out-loud moments, like a college graduation speech gone awry in a nearly “I Love Lucy” fashion, and a blow-out over a chipped Yellow Submarine collector’s item which results in the most hilarious tirade of the night but also proves poignant, as it marks a turning point in a marriage. There are also touching tear-up points, like rehearsing a young friend’s eulogy. And it’s the mix of comedy, tragedy and uncertainty that make the play transcend its barren stage and feel very real.

The play’s reality and humanity also come from its good writing and strong performances. The cast is packed with theater majors, most of whom have MFAs, who inject a lot of personality and compassion into their characters. The music selection — songs to set the tone before each scene — was also a great mix. I would love to have the playlist.

The play only has two more showings, this Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27, so do check it out if you’re looking for something to do this weekend. Just remember not to wear anything too warm — the audience sits so close, they’re under the same hot lights the actors are; and go to the bathroom before the hour-and-a-half performance — otherwise you’ll be trying to sneak across the stage to the door.

Show info:

What: Months on End by Craig Pospisil
When:
Friday, September 16, 2008 at 8:00 p.m./Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: The Tre Stage, 1523 N. La Brea, Studio 210, Los Angeles, CA
How much: $15

Starring:

Elaine – Elizabeth Chomko
Walter – Brian Bitner
Phoebe – Adrian Lynn
Tony – Brace Harris
Ben – Aaron Shact
Nick – Michael Miller
Paige – Rachael Kemery
Heidi – Caitlin Leonard
Gwen – Karla Holland
Chris – Clyde Small

Directed by Kunal Nayyar
Produced by Chancellor Dean