Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tigers Be Still

TIGERS BE STILL…a slight comedy about depression

Have you ever had an American cheese, mayonnaise and white bread sandwich? You finished it and for a while are satisfied, but never thought much about it afterwards? That’s my reaction to TIGERS BE STILL. I saw it, left the theatre, walked to my car with a friend and talked about our dinner that evening, got into the car, listened to the seventh game of the World Series on the way home, and didn’t think about the play again until the next morning, when I saw the platbill on my desk.

This is not to say TIGERS BE STILL is bad. It’s perfectly okay…like an American cheese, mayonnaise and white bread sandwich. It’s just not exciting or memorable. The message of “you are responsible for your own actions” is clear, the plot flows right along with some quirky inserts, but nothing screams out, “pay attention to this.”

Playwright Kim Rosenstock said, of TIGERS BE STILL, that she “wanted to write a comedy about depression.” She did. Not a great comedy about depression, but a less than depressing comedy about depression.

TIGERS BE STILL examines the lives of a mother, two sisters, a former beau of the mother who is now a junior high principal, and his son. All are dysfunctional. The mother has a disease, which forces her to take a drug that causes severe weight gain. A former beauty, she crawls into bed, has not come out of her room for months, and communicates with her daughters, who live in the same house as the mother, by telephone. Her husband walked out when she became bedroom bound.

Her oldest daughter has called off her impending wedding because her fiancé cheated. She is in deep depression, drinking and eating with abandon, and lying on the living room couch watching over and over again a Depends commercial, and a video of TOP GUN, while having a sexual fling with the octogenarian mailman.

The youngest daughter, who just completed her MA in art therapy, has been hired to teach at a junior high by her mother’s ex-boy friend and also to counsel his angst-filled and angry son. She is as needy as the rest of her psychotic brood.

The principal is grief stricken and acting off-kilter due to the sudden death of his wife. The son, who was responsible for his mother’s death, when he lost control of the car he was driving, has a rage problem. Guess what? They are both depressed.

The play ends with the line, “And, that’s how my mother got out of bed.” That gives a broad hint of how the whole saga works itself out.

Dobama’s production, under the direction of Mark Moritz, is fine. The pace, movements, idea development, and characterizations are all on track. Nothing great, nothing bad.

Rachel Gehlert is like the Energizer bunny on speed. She is delightful, quirky and makes Sherry, the art therapist, fun. Well, as fun as a depressed person can be.

Kristy Cruz, is fine as the depressed older sister. She appropriately makes depressed look depressing.

Mark Mayo adds a quirky twist to the role of the Principal, but one can only wonder why a school board would continue to employ someone “so out of it.” But, this interpretation of a principal seems to be the trend…think Principal Figgens in GLEE.

Joe Dunn gives a nice interpretation to the role of the guilt-ridden teenager. His “why I didn’t shoot the tiger speech” is excellent.

Oh, the title. A tiger has broken out of the local zoo and the citizenry is very depressed over what might take place if someone is confronted by the animal.

Capsule judgement: TIGERS BE STILL, which gets a nice production at Dobama, isn’t the kind of play that will long be remembered. It’s not a don’t see nor a must see kind of offering.