Edward Albee’s first work was the one-act The Zoo Story, and it certainly foreshadowed the tense, often-uneasy dramatic canon that was to flow from this great American playwright. In 55 anxious minutes that unfold in real time, a “permanent transient” (as he calls himself) named Jerry makes contact with and proceeds to unload every tortured emotion and neurosis upon Peter, a mild-mannered publishing-company exec with a wife, two daughters and two parakeets. Directed by Rosina Reynolds for Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company, the action is a slow boil of human drama.
Francis Gercke’s Jerry is manic and calculatingly menacing for most of the one act, while Phil Johnson’s Peter endures in quiet anguish on the Central Park bench where Jerry has interrupted his routine of quiet reading. When Peter can stand no more and boils over, Johnson and Gercke become two desperate men at odds where anything can happen. It does. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 7/18/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.