“Bengal Tiger” Roars

Ran into town last weekend to have dinner with friend and fellow playwright C D Jones, and stayed to see a Dramatist’s Guild hosted “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”, by Rajiv Joseph, currently playing (until October 8) at 7 Stages.  I remain amazed at how many folks I run into that have never visited 7 Stages – even though this is the Theatre’s 39 season. Seriously, people. Get there. It’s a great space, big enough to host epic shows but small enough to feel intimate. And the programming remains adventurous, compelling and well crafted.

And this production of “Tiger” is a Great Show. Capital Letters. Place:  Baghdad. Time: The War, circa 2003. The theme couldn’t be more timely – the stupidity of combat, how quickly chaos can overtake the best of decisions when the stakes are high. Or, as virtually each character eventually reminds us: Even though someone or something is dead, don’t mean they are gone. Effects linger, particularly those that are dark.

The design work is flawless – there are images that will linger with me for years, I suspect. The ensemble is hands down the finest group of actors I have seen on a local stage since I’ve returned to the ATL seven years ago.  Everyone puts it all on the line, in the moment – whether that moment is a mauling by title tiger or the silent lament of a leper.

Do I have any issues with the show? Well, one. I say the author gives short shift to the women but yes, it could be argued that’s only appropriate, given the culture. Go and see it and decide for yourself. But go. This one really does fall under that category of “Not To Be Missed”.