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BWW Review: THE ZOO STORY at Gamut Theatre Group

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An Exploration of the Human Desire to Communicate and to be Understood

BWW Review: THE ZOO STORY at Gamut Theatre Group

The Zoo Story is the first of Edward Albee's plays to be produced. It premiered in Berlin in 1959 and, in 1960, The Zoo Story was performed at Provincetown Playhouse in New York. This one act show features two characters-Peter and Jerry-who unexpectedly meet in Central Park. There has been a great deal of critical conversation around whether or not The Zoo Story properly belongs in the category of absurdist drama. No matter how one categorizes the play, in true Albee fashion, The Zoo Story delves into the complexities of human nature and leaves audiences feeling stunned. This challenging and thought-provoking play can be experienced at Gamut Theatre through October 25th.

The production team at Gamut did a wonderful job with the set, music, sound effects, and costumes. The minimal set includes two benches, a trash can, and some rocks and trees-it is just enough to evoke the sense of being in Central Park while keeping the audience's attention focused on the characters. The subtle sound effects of birds and occasional traffic are a nice touch, reminding the audience that Central Park is in the midst of a bustling city. The costumes help to highlight the differences between Peter and Jerry. Peter's suit distinguishes him as an educated man who makes a good living and is very particular and orderly. He is a man who likes to feel in control. On the other hand, Jerry's jeans and untucked t-shirt emphasize not only his different station in life, but also, more importantly, his different view of and approach to life and relationships.

Jeff Luttermoser and David Ramón Zayas take the stage in Gamut's production as Peter and Jerry. Luttermoser's performance as Peter is beautiful. Each movement and facial expression is crafted so that the audience feels every one of Peter's emotions. Even the most subtle turn of the head or quirk of the lip feels like an authentic reaction to the situation in which Peter finds himself. While the character does not have that many lines, his actions communicate clearly. Luttermoser brings the audience along on a journey with Peter through feelings of anxiety, confusion, annoyance, frustration, joy, consternation, anger, and horror.

Zayas portrays the verbose and awkwardly intrusive Jerry. From his very first declaration of "I've been to the zoo" he draws the audience into Jerry's world through the cadence of his speech and his gestures, which feel so free compared to Peter's. His storytelling ability is phenomenal. Jerry becomes a relatable character in the hands of David Ramón Zayas. Even though the audience may feel the same kind of annoyance with Jerry as Peter does and may wish to ignore or deny Jerry's understanding of the human condition, Jerry forces Peter and the audience to recognize in themselves the loneliness caused by the inability to truly connect with other people.

The Zoo Story is a complex and compelling play. Jeff Luttermoser and David Ramón Zayas, under the direction of Clark Nicholson, bring Peter and Jerry to life in a way that grabs the audience's attention and refuses to let go until the very last moment. Don't miss out on your opportunity to experience this incredible performance. Visit www.gamuttheatre.org for information on tickets to The Zoo Story. For insights from the actors on their experience with this play, visit www.facebook.com/gamuttheatre.

Photo credit: John Bivins Photography


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From This Author Andrea Stephenson