Yesterday, Geoffrey and I went to see the play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, and it was just fantastic. Starring Robin Williams in the title role, Bengal Tiger seems to be one of the most polarizing plays to hit Broadway in years. Just check out a few online audience reviews and you will see that it’s a show that people either love passionately or totally hate. The disparity between the five and the one star reviews might have something to do with the fact that it’s billed as a “Ferocious Comedy,” when it’s really more of heavy, existential political drama with a few good belly laughs here and there, mostly thanks to Williams’ really terrific performance.
It’s not a stretch to imagine that someone expecting to laugh their ass off at a talking tiger’s hilarious hi-jinx might tend to walk out at intermission when they discover this is really a heavily philosophical play about the horrors of war, on and off the battlefield. I guess I benefited from having no expectations, so I was able to go along for the journey to wherever the play took me – and it was a pretty wild ride.
The dialogue is highly engaging and the acting is excellent; not only by Robin Williams but by Brad Fleischer and Glenn Davis as two doomed Marines, Arian Moayed as their Arab translator (who is wrestling his own demons) and Hrach Titizian as the ghost of Uday Hussain, who honestly stole the show for me. What an excellent performance! I don’t want to get too detailed about the plot because I’m afraid of revealing events in a play that I think is best enjoyed when there is still an element discovery, but Popdose.com has a very accessible, non-spoiler review at This Link which manages to distill the plot in an intriguing fashion without giving too much away.
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is showing through July 3, 2011, (so you have just over one week to see it) at the Richard Rogers Theater, Located at 226 West 46th Street. We were able to get tickets for just $75 and you can likely find a bargain as well if you are willing to do a little Internet footwork.