Under the dire circumstances of the situation, the show’s comedic inclinations will either take some getting used to or gradually wear a little thin, depending on your personal taste and point of view. They largely rest in the unlikeliest of places, with Sam Younis as the spectral spirit of Hussein’s late son, the equally ruthless Uday.
A pivotal prop in the play is Uday’s gold-plated gun, initially confiscated following the deadly raid on his mansion. As it passes from one character’s possession to another’s, so are they soon visited and unhinged by various apparitions from the afterlife and casualties of the war.
Joseph’s tonal imbalance is deliberate, of course, but it isn’t always fully complemented by the stylistic design of Haverty’s production. The minimal set (by Lito Tamez) doesn’t sufficiently evoke the atmosphere of battle-torn Baghdad. And those other-dimensional ghosts roam on and off the stage rather unceremoniously, when the director might have done more with the lighting (by Stevie Roushdi) or the special effects (by Vii Kelly) to emphasize them and distinguish them from the real world they invade and inhabit.
Fascinating in its concept, if flawed in its execution, “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” is an undeniably ambitious attempt, despite some slightly faulty results. Then again, come to think of it, perhaps that makes the 7 Stages show an entirely suitable metaphor for the Iraq War itself.
“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”
Through Oct. 8. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 5 p.m. Sundays; 2 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 7 only). $15-$25. 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave. (in Little Five Points), Atlanta. 404-523-7647, www.7stages.org.
Bottom line: It's complicated.
IN OTHER THEATER NEWS:
We were LIVE from the Cirque du Soleil big top to preview Cirque’s upcoming show: LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil. Tune in for a behind the scenes interview, a look at wardrobe and rehearsals ahead of the premiere.