note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
Depression is nothing to laugh at, but in the Boston premiere of Zeitgeist Stage Company’s production of Kim Rosenstock’s quirky, dark comedy, “Tigers Be Still,” the playwright pokes fun at gloom.
In the cozy Boston Center for the Arts’ Plaza Black Box Theatre, under Artistic Director David Miller’s deft direction, Zeitgeist favorites Kelley Estes, Zack Winston and Peter Brown portray gloomy guys with hangdog expressions, while Becca A. Lewis as main character-narrator Sherry Wickman is upbeat and cheery, almost manic, while coping with their sadness.
Lurking in the shadows of their minds and somewhere within a 100-mile radius of their suburban town is a tiger that escaped from the local zoo. The tiger is the least of their trauma, but becomes their allegorical, psychological fixation as they attempt to confront their inner demons and release them. Kelly Estes as Sherry’s older sister, Grace, is hilarious. With a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand, she flops on the sofa, refusing to move, watching romantic TV shows that make her wail even more about her broken engagement. Grace’s four-year relationship ended, so she moved back home, carting off some of her ex-fiance’s treasured belongings, including his two dogs, hoping he’d call to retrieve them. When he doesn’t answer her calls or contact her, her depression deepens.
Like Rosenstock’s real-life mother, Sherry’s mom has an autoimmune disorder and takes steroids. She gained 70 pounds and is so ashamed of her appearance, she refuses to let anyone - including her daughters - see her. Her self-imposed solitary confinement drove her husband away forever.
But 23-year-old Sherry is overjoyed. After earning her MBA in art therapy, she finally landed a job as a substitute teacher-art therapist at the local middle school, where her mom’s estranged high school boyfriend is principal. He also hired Sherry to work with his troubled teen-age son, Zack, who was fired from CVS and, later, Walgreens.
Peter Brown as widower-principal Joseph Moore adds dignity and reason, despite his keeping a rifle on his office desk, in case the tiger attacks.
Zach Winston as Zack has anger management issues but deadpans through most of the play. He inductively discloses his problems to Sherry and why he seeks emotional refuge in his recently-deceased mother’s expansive, walk-in shoe closet.
Although the play has a few dead spots and repetition, the characters and their interrelated, madcap antics are entertaining. Miller’s set design and John Delfino’s lighting are also noteworthy.
BOX INFO: One-act,105-minute, play by Kim Rosenstock, appearing with Zeitgeist Stage Company through May 5 at the Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., South End, Boston. Performances: Wednesday, Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 4,8 p.m.; Sunday, 4 p.m., with talkback. Advance tickets,$25; at the door, $30; seniors, students, $20; Wednesday, May 2, pay-what-you-can, $7 minimum. Call 617-933-8600, visit BostonTheaterScene.com or the Box Office at 527 Tremont St.