What do an escaped tiger, an art therapist dealing with her first-ever client, and a recently dumped and severely depressed young woman have in common? Though this might sound like the lead-in to a bad joke, all of these things are subjects in Actors Comedy Lab and Raleigh Little Theatre’s uproarious and utterly charming production of Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still.
This quirky little play is about a lot of things but, on the surface at least, it’s about Sherry (Jessica Heironimus), a young art therapist who’s been hired as a school art teacher and saddled with helping the school principal’s troubled son, Zack (Danny Dove), overcome his anger issues. Sherry lives at home with her depressed and recently dumped sister, Grace (Tracey Phillips), and her unseen mother, who has hidden herself away in an upstairs bedroom and only speaks to the sisters via telephone. Oh yeah, and there’s an escaped tiger prowling through town as well.
All of these things considered, it’s easy to assume “Tigers” would be dark and depressing. Somehow, though, these subjects combine into a thoughtful, hopeful, and completely hilarious take on human connections and finding lightness in the darkest of times.
Heironimus brings Sherry’s bubbly sweetness to life without making the character annoyingly saccharine, and Danny Dove’s Zack is the perfect combination of brooding teenage angst and endearing vulnerability. Zack’s father, played by the actor’s real-life dad, Kent Dove, also impresses in his role as a bumbling, clueless, but genuinely concerned parent. Best of all, however, is Tracey Philips as the jilted Grace. Her constant guzzling of Jack Daniels and her drunken cell-phone serenade to her ex-fiancé constitute some of the show’s most winning (and funny!) moments.
Thanks to the combined efforts of director Rod Rich and set designer Thomas Mauney, the show moves along briskly, never missing a beat or growing dull. Projected images and text announce scene titles and settings, and the characters are constantly moving, making the small set feel much larger than it actually is. Nancy Rich and Bunny Safron add even more visual appeal with unique costumes perfectly suited to each character. Sherry, in all of her delightful oddness, is constantly clad in colorful tights and tops—including an unforgettable octopus sweater, and Grace, with her inextinguishable humor, sports a top that reads “Check Meowt” and features a picture of a cat.
Viewers in need of a truly heartwarming laugh and a new set of characters to love will find their needs met by Tigers Be Still.
Actors Comedy Lab and Raleigh Little Theatre present TIGERS BE STILL at 8 p.m. March 28-30, 3 p.m. March 31; 8 p.m. April 4-6, and 3 p.m. April 7 in RLT‘s Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $15 ($12 students and seniors).
BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or https://raleighlittletheatre.secure.force.com/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKEG6kHSUKQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoOMFwuPqXA&list=UUvWuTxQELG9aiTIv6MjqyjA&index=3.
Actors Comedy Lab http://www.actorscomedylab.com/.
Raleigh Little Theatre http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/. VENUE: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/.
NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible.
Tigers Be Still (background): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=4312 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).
Kim Rosenstock: http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsR/rosenstock-kim.html (Doollee.com).
Rod Rich: https://www.facebook.com/rod.rich.33 (Facebook).