Students to preform "The Zoo Story"

By Carolyn Williams

Staff Writer

Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story” is set on a park bench in New York City’s Central Park. Peter, a mild-mannered publishing executive in his mid-forties, sits reading and enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon until he is interrupted by a strange young man named Jerry who wants to talk. As he interrogates Peter on the minutiae of his day-to-day life, Jerry exhibits biting sarcasm and frightening intuition but reveals his own isolation, loneliness, and desperation for some sort of human interaction. The reluctant Peter is drawn into this protracted conversation by the promise that, if he is patient, Jerry will share what happened to him at the zoo. But as the play progresses, Peter may wish he never found out.

This performance of “The Zoo Story” is directed by Diego Chiri ’12, who was inspired to mount an Albee production after the playwright’s visit to campus last semester to receive the honor of Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters.

“Peter and Jerry are more real that you could imagine. There is a Peter inside all of us who has found comfort and security in our everyday lives and suppresses the need to break out of the mundane – but the Jerry inside us.. Jerry challenges our thinking, our life, our habits. Who should you choose? Peter, who desperately resists change, or Jerry who urges us to connect with anyone or anything at any cost,” Chiri said.

Preston Perrin ’15 stars as the politely normal yet intrinsically unhappy Peter, and Nicolas Muoio ’15 as the charismatic and troubled Jerry.

“This play is one that has more than just a literal meaning. There is more to this show than what meets your eye. There are ideas and beliefs thrown around during the hour we are performing so pay attention and really open your mind to hear and see what it is Peter and Jerry are trying to get across to one another,” Perrin said.

Part of the strength of “The Zoo Story,” which has captivated audiences since it was written in 1958, is the universality of the characters’ problems. Some people are always going to labor under the misapprehension that they are happy in their own mediocrity, and others are bound to be fighting a losing war against their own loneliness. With a Spartan set (it literally consists of one park bench in a black box theatre), and two frighteningly real characters, “The Zoo Story” is a coldly realistic portrait of humanity, both then and now, and Chiri’s production executes it admirably.

The show is open to the public tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. in Tustin’s Studio Theatre. Tickets are $5.

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