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Tiger

by on 16 February 2018

Balanced and Gentle Performances 

Tiger

by Joe Eyre

Joyous Gard at Network Theatre, Waterloo, until 18th February
Part of The VAULT Festival

Review by Melissa Syversen

Even before being asked to review it, Tiger had caught my eye in The Vaults Festival programme. It has a very intriguing premise. A man who is always dressed in a tiger costume. In short it is the story of Alice and Oli, a couple who are looking for a flatmate. Having recently had a terrible loss, Alice has stopped working as a stand-up comedian and they need help paying the rent. While Oli is at work, a man dressed as a tiger comes to view the room. Though initially thrown by this, Alice finds a rapport with Tiger, as she affectionately names him and offers him the room.

Tiger2

Written by Joe Eyre, Tiger is one of those lovely pieces that successfully manages to balance the line between comedy and drama. Eyre’s strength as a writer is evident especially in the way he has tapped into the, if I may say, remarkable everyday aspects of grief. Grief is painful, it is all-encompassing. Someone you loved just ceases to exist yet paradoxically, the normal world continues around you. The bins still must be taken out, bills must be paid. It is an absurd state of being in flux and there is a lot of humour to be found there. So, by meeting Tiger, dressed as he is and speaking in an outrageously thick New Jersey dialect, Alice is given something equally absurd as her situation to connect with. The play isn’t just fun and jokes though, there is pathos to be found. The scene Alice opens about her loss, whilst struggling to hold herself together is particularly potent and will probably ring painfully true to many who have lost someone dear to them. Stephanie Lane is a solid performer throughout this play, but that scene and her final vulnerable and heartfelt speech to Oli are truly stand-out moments. James Burton has arguably the trickier role of the “straight man” of the piece as Oli but he imbues him with a subtle undercurrent of emotion as Oli fights to support Alice in her grief and unconventional choice of a flatmate. And bless Joe Corrigal, not only does he give a surprisingly gentle performance as Tiger, he does it with what must be a very hot costume and one of the trickiest dialects out there.

Tiger 1

If I had one wish though, it would be that this piece was, say, ten minutes longer. There were moments of movement sequences reminiscent of sitcom montages, though well made, seemed rushed. The passing if the story was quite jarring in the middle. To use a metaphor: If the play is a mountain and the climbing team is the audience and the cast, we had a nice even climb during the first half. We were introduced to our three teammates and patiently and pleasantly began our journey. But then as we approach the dramatic (mountain) peak, suddenly the mountainside turned into a very steep uphill climb and the better trained cast out-climbed us and left us behind. As we were still climbing to catch up, there was then a triple of tropes thrown at us like snowballs in very quick succession. To paraphrase: The ‘He lied to us!’, and I don’t think I want you anymore…’, and at last but not least: ‘Don’t do it, life is worth living…!’ The sharp gear shift in speed (there is a car in this metaphor, I guess?) It made the peak feel truncated and melodramatic as we the audience were left behind to really earn the emotional payoff.

But keeping that in mind, it is a good sign that I wish I had more time with these characters, and not less. I enjoyed these characters, I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed the lovely designed set. (I also enjoyed seeing a dramaturg on the list of creatives.) I loved the idea of a man dressed as a tiger, and what stories such an idea could develop into. And regarding the issue of time, I do appreciate that as a fringe production at The Vaults Festival, time (be it for performance or tech) is limited.

If you are free, do make time to see Tiger at the Network Space at the Vaults. If unable, then do keep an eye out for other works by Joe Eyre, and the theatre company Joyous Gard. I know I will.

Melissa Syversen
February 2018

Photographs of Beth Eyre

 

From → Drama, Fringe, Reviews

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