TIGERS BE STILL Close SF Playhouse 2010-2011 season

(Left) Sherri (Melissa Quine) gets her first Art therapy Patient (Jeremy Kahn) but can’t get her sister, Grace (Rebecca Schweitzer*) to leave their “home office”.

(Right)Sherri (Melissa Quine) encourages Joseph (Remi Sandri*) to go upstairs and visit her depressed mother who hasn’t gotten out of bed in months.

TIGERS BE STILL: Comedy. By Kim Rosenstock. Directed by Amy Glazer. Through July 30. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter St., San Francisco. 85 minutes. (415) 677-9596 or www.sfplayhouse.org. Through July 30, 2011

TIGERS BE STILL Close SF Playhouse 2010-2011 season.

Good roles for women in theatre are deficient and there is even a local acting group dedicating their season to correcting that defect. On the other hand there has been an explosion of topnotch women playwrights and the Magic Theatre seems to have a monopoly on their West Coast or regional productions. Last November they introduced the newest kid on the playwriting block with their spectacular 85 minute mounting of OR by Liz Duffy Adams. SF Playhouse introduces the Bay Area to newbie Kim Rosenstock, a recent Yale School of Drama graduate, with her 75 minute comedy Tigers Be Still and it suggests that she is not quite ready for prime time. Local audiences will have a second chance to evaluate Rosenstock’s abilities when TheatreWorks presents the world premiere of her musical Fly by Night later this month.

Tiger be Still introduces us to a branch of psychology/psychiatry called Art Therapy that required a visit to google for an explanation. It is based on the concept that the creative process in pursuing any form of art can resolve conflicts, reduce stress and increase self esteem. All the characters, three on stage and one off-stage, have enough depression between them that if they sought treatment the fees would fill a psychiatrist’s financial coffers.

Rosenstock’s protagonist Shelly (Melissa Quine) is also the narrator. It seems that she had taken to her bed in a depressive mood after not being able to find any kind of job with her Art Therapy degree/credentials. She has come down to the living room in semi-euphoria to clean up the physical detritus of the living room and address the audience. For some questionable reason, except probably to inject humor into the play, Shelly uses karaoke paraphernalia microphone. She has a job as a substitute teacher and also has her first patient, Zack (Jeremy Kahn) the 18 year old son of Joseph (Remi Sandri) the school principal.

Every therapist needs a sofa. Unfortunately the sofa in her “home” office is continually occupied by deeply depressed older sister Grace ( Rebecca Schweitzer) swilling Jack Daniels out of the bottle while getting her jollies watching Top Gun and a Depends commercial. Why? She has parted from her cheating fiancée and has stolen all his possessions including two Chihuahuas. Then there is a never seen dear old mom, who because of her excessive weight gain, has locked herself in her room and only communicates with the family by telephone.

At Joseph’s request Zack becomes Sherry’s teaching assistant and hopefully by creating art in the classroom will help him out of his anger and despair following his mother’s death in an auto accident. Rosenstock throws in an extra twist with a high school attachment between Joseph and poor sequestered mom. Before I forget a tiger has escaped from the zoo and is roaming about. Thus Joseph cancels recess and carries a gun to school. There must be some symbolism attached to the free roaming tiger but it certainly is murky.

Within this non-humorous jumble, the actors perform nobly and Jeremy Kahn wins the brass ring with a top-notch performance that carries the day. This time around Bill English’s cluttered realistic set (he has included an eave and drain spout outlining the proscenium arch) gets in the way of the action making it difficult for director Amy Glazer to create a smooth transition between the many scenes.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com