Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
At Home at the Zoo
Also see Susan's review of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The blended work examines the two sides of Peter (Jeff Allin), an editor with a textbook publishing house: his calm, traditional marriage to Ann (Colleen Delany) and the random invasion of his personal space by Jerry (James McMenamin). The issue is the conflict between civilized behavior and the kind of savagery associated with wild animals.
Peter is an archetypal New York liberal intellectual. He wants what's best for his wife and his (unseen) daughters; he enjoys his job, he makes good money, he has a comfortable home and the amenities he wants. He's gentle, solicitous, and goes out of his way to compromise and not to upset those around him. The problem at home is that Ann is tired of all that predictability; she wants a little less caution and more of a walk on the wild side, sexual and otherwise. On her side, the issue is: "Something bad can be good." On his: "It's not all right to love someone and not want to hurt them?"
So Peter escapes his home and goes to read on his favorite park bench, where the disheveled and progressively more threatening Jerry accosts him with the declaration "I've been to the zoo!" Jerry is the "other" who pushes easygoing Peter to the limit, but Albee leaves the audience to consider who or what he might be: a derelict, a man with emotional problems, or a social rebel?
Robinson, working with scenic designer James Noone, uses the intimate space of the Cradle to lay out the relationships as if on a microscope slide. Allin embodies the outwardly ineffectual, inwardly troubled Peter with the comfort of the character's corduroy jacket with suede elbow patches; Delany starts out a little mannered, but soon finds her way through her character's darker side; and McMenamin radiates danger and uncertainty from his entrance.