While opening night had only a small crowd of approximately 10 people, The Psych Drama Company invited their audience members to become immersed into the lives of a bored couple and a deranged man.
The curtain went up on their production of “At Home at the Zoo” last Thursday in AS220’s black box theater.
Written by famed playwright Edward Albee “At Home at the Zoo” has only three characters in its two acts. Something unique about this show is that Act 1 and Act 2 were written as separate plays. Albee wrote Act 2 first, while Act 1 was written years later as a prequel to the events in the second act.
The show opens with the characters Peter and Ann on stage, played by Brian Dion and Wendy Lippe. While Peter is proofreading textbooks for work, Ann comes into the living room to initiate a conversation with her husband. From there Ann confesses how bored she is in her marriage although she still loves Peter. Their dialogue and actions took the audience on a short adventure on what their lives would look like if they had more animalistic qualities.
The actors really took advantage of their performance space. The black box theater allowed them to really create a space of their own as their set was very minimalistic.
Also, in the first act Peter’s vulnerability comes through as he opens up to Ann about after all these years why he’s so gentle in bed. Together, Peter and Ann go through a rollercoaster of emotions, and Dion and Lippe excelled at portraying these emotions through their physical movements and facial expressions.
If anything carried the show, it was the acting. At some points you may not have known where the show was going or what was about to happen, but the acting consistently seemed to captivate the audience.
After Act 1, you don’t see Ann again as Peter goes to the park to continue reading his textbook. Peter’s introduction to Jerry changes the tone immensely. Jerry, played by David Lee Vincent, is full of stories that he pressures Peter into listening to. Through Jerry’s stories you learn a lot about him. He may lose you a bit now and again, but Vincent’s portrayal of Jerry was very strong. He took Jerry’s character to a new level and put his full body into the role. If you haven’t seen the show before the ending might be a surprise to you.
Directly following the performance, psychologist Lise Motherwell was invited to lead a post-show discussion about what the audience had just watched. All three actors joined in as Motherwell and the audience unraveled the psychological topics that the play covers. “At Home at the Zoo” has a lot of topics packed into it. The actors and audience seemed to find some clarity based off of the discussion that Motherwell led.
Each performance of “At Home at the Zoo” will include a post-show discussion led by a mental health professional.
Want to check out the show yourself? The rest of the performances are Feb. 20-22 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at thepsychdramacompany.com or from as220.org.