Theatre: ‘The Zoo Story’ by Edward Albee and Judder Theatre

The theatre upstairs from Chaplin’s Bar is an intimate space with the actors performing right next to the audience – this immersive theatre experience has become a hallmark or Judder Theatre since its 2018 foundation.

This is an excellent production. The performance by Vincent Patrick as Jerry is a portrayal of a complex man – angry, lonely, unhinged, seeking company. Dangerous? It is an excellent performance, comedic yet sinister. Equally impressive is Stephen Kelly as Peter who plays the character as a buttoned down, prim, slightly repressed man goaded by Jerry. It’s no mean feat for an actor to keep the audience’s attention while silently reacting to the other character speaking constantly. He is also excellent. Although written over sixty years years ago the themes of isolation and unfulfillment in an atomised world ring very true for a 2023 Ireland in the midst of a housing crisis.

Tightly directed by Shaun Elebert the play moves at a brisk pace holding the audience attention throughout.

I had no idea what to expect of the play before attending it – I never read plot summaries in advance. I like the element of surprise. I as aware of course of Albee and his later masterpiece ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf’ (the 2016 Gate Theatre production still probably the best play I have ever seen). I won’t reveal the ending of ‘The Zoo Story’ but can say that it is hugely dramatic. ‘Ghosts’ by Ibsen currently playing in the Abbey – Ireland’s national theatre – has an ending similar in style. Judder Theatre’s was more impressive.

My only very minor quibble (more of an observation) was the decision to relocate the play to Dublin in the modern day – some of the script was quintessentially New York in the 1950s, and didn’t ring quite convincing as 2023 in Dublin.

The play runs from Wednesday to Saturday for the next two weeks. Beg, borrow or steal, but try to see this play. Highly recommended.

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