BWW Review: AT HOME AT THE ZOO Explodes in Reality at the KC Actors Theatre
Originally titled PETER & JERRY, AT HOME AT THE ZOO opened on Saturday September 12 at the H&R Block City Stage in Union Station. Edward Albee wrote AT HOME AT THE ZOO the latest production of the Kansas City Actors Theatre. Doug Weaver directs the powerful dramatic offering starring three of Kansas City's top performers.
AT HOME AT THE ZOO began as a one-act play by Albee, THE ZOO STORY in 1958. After 50 years and successful runs of the play, Albee had been haunted with the realization that there was a first act yet to be written, HOMELIFE became that first act. In HOMELIFE, Peter a mild-mannered man who only wants to live his monotonous life without interruption, sits in his living room trying to read a boring 700-page book.
He gets in to an often-humorous banter with his wife Ann (who has grown tired of the status quo), which turns more serious as she tells how she wants more adventure and surprises in the marriage. She especially desires for a more animalistic approach to their sex lives. The intensity grows until Ann explodes in frustration, surprising and shocking both of them. We leave the first act as Peter goes off to a park bench to read, this time a book for his own entertainment and not for his work in the publishing business.
THE ZOO STORY opens the second act with Peter sitting on the bench reading a Stephen King novel. After only a few moments pass, Jerry enters the park and begins to try to take up a conversation with Peter. Jerry is a somewhat disturbed and peculiar man who is intent on telling Peter about his trip to the zoo and anecdotes about the apartment building he lives in. Through the dramatic dialogue, Jerry learns that Peter can be described in twos: two daughters, two parakeets, and two cats. Act 2 is a discovery of one's inner self and that everyone holds the same animalistic instincts, as those observed at the zoo.
Brian Paulette is fabulous as Peter, giving a sterling performance as the docile husband in Act 1 and as he explodes in Act 2. His calmness fits perfectly with a man who only wants a normal unassuming life. Jessalyn Kincaid is fantastic as Ann the bored wife who tries to bring him out of his safe zone. Her dialogue and movements are so natural that you feel as if you are eavesdropping on a conversation and not watching a wonderful actor perform her lines.
Forrest Attaway is phenomenal as Jerry, with a powerful dramatic performance that not only steals the second act but the entire show. Jerry is relentless as he baits Peter into his own self-being. Attaway is not just an actor playing a part; he becomes Jerry in a spectacular performance.
AT HOME AT THE ZOO is a must see and continues at the H & R Bloch City Stage through September 27. Purchase tickets by visiting the KC Actors Theatre website. Photo courtesy of KC Actors Theatre.