Directed by Claudia Barrie
Mad March Hare Theatre in association with Red Line Productions
Old Fitz Theatre
129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo
Season: 12 April – 6 May
In the wake of the Iraq War, Rajiv Joseph’s relatively new play takes an unconventional view of exploring its events. The play is loosely based on 2003 news reports about a US soldier who was mauled by a valuable tiger he was supposedly protecting at the Baghdad zoo. He had attempted to feed it through the cage bars, and after being mauled, the soldier shot the tiger dead. The play extrapolates these circumstances, exploring the psyche of various characters linked to event – whether dead or alive.
The bleak situation illustrated for the US soldiers leave the audience to partly revile them, and on the other hand, to sympathise for them. It devastates me that thousands of people are directly involved in warfare every day, largely in conflicts somehow instigated by the unwieldy power of the US. Through Josh Anderson and Stephen Multari, we see two figures who both perpetuate and want a piece of this conflict, yet are simultaneously victims of it. Anderson plays Kev with youthful vigour as he expels violent idealism and naivety. It is unnerving the way that he can be vastly repulsive in his attitudes and yet still create an emotional connection with the audience that makes you truly care about his circumstances. It is a bold performance. Andrew Lindqvist plays Musa, the soldiers’ translator wonderfully, nailing the political ambiguity that can arise with shifting bodies of power.
Maggie Dence's Tiger stands figuratively above all of these political and interpersonal events, casting philosophical aspersions over the happenings. Dence is witty and deadpan as she delivers her speeches in a gruff Australian accent. She is vaguely animalistic in her mannerisms and yet tastefully doesn't assume blatant features of a tiger, striking a good balance. She spits out some massive ideas that give you plenty to reflect upon and I feel like I am still processing. Joseph's play is a big one, and I'm not sure how effectively I digested it in one sitting - I almost felt as if I needed to see it again to grasp all its intricacies.
A production that engages with the events of the Iraq War has got to be a heavy hitter. But this production manages to deal with even bigger questions, like, WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Claudia Barrie’s piece engages strikingly with these big picture questions and issues and doesn’t recoil away from a bit of grit. With great performances from the whole cast, this show is something fierce.