The Zoo Story, Theatre Review. The Casa, Liverpool. Liverpool Fringe Festival.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Stephen O’Toole, David Crosby.

It may because of its bright lights, the allusion to a sense of greatness that comes with size and popularity with visitors but to feel totally at ease with yourself in New York City can feel emotionally blissful; to sit and listen to the tales of group of a million random voices, all unique, all frightening, dazzlingly inspired voices complaining, laughing, being scared of the dark in a city to whom illumination is a watch word of enlightenment, it can only be satisfying if you are on the edge taking in the wonder of the finest circus, the greatest zoo ever conceived.

To take on any of Edward Albee’s, one must show confidence in the performance perhaps more than the vast majority of American playwrights can ever demand, the sense of isolation is one that really tears down barriers and can cast a shadow over the proceedings as the audience is left feeling the guilt of their own remoteness to other human beings and society in general; the often craved for beauty that resides in seclusion is only a mask that many cannot remove even when in the most beguiling of company.

The Zoo Story, Mr. Albee’s first play, is perhaps the one that captures this emotion best and in Stephen O’ Toole and David Crosby’s exceptional reading of the text, it is one that surely is a highlight of the inaugural Liverpool Fringe Festival.

The nature of the two characters on show is one that resonates even if you have never found yourself lazing in the autumn sunshine whilst sitting in Central Park’s vast space; the tired and the introspective, the remoteness of the minds that live in the same city, the quelling of anger to which isolation brings, all these feelings of remorse and unsettling behaviour were captured superbly by the two actors.

Mr. O’ Toole certainly found the essence of a young Robert De Niro as he paced the staged relating the tale of his life, the frank confessions, the unsettling repartee of his strange relationship with life and in full glare of Mr. Crosby’s unassuming and delightful interested but aghast ordinary man on the street.

The idea that everybody around you is nuts and you are the only sane one in the world goes hand in hand with most people’s perception on life and it is framed perfectly in this particular play. To conquer such thoughts, to showcase them as feelings of absolute is to understand that we are all on the verge of creating our own Zoo Story, one in which the cages are permanently open and visiting hours are set in stone.

A moment of outstanding theatre, one in The Zoo Story became a fascinating tale in the dark of isolation.

Ian D. Hall