Apr 1, 2011
feng shui lady
reviewed Bengal Tiger
How can any nation ask those whose hormones haven’t been mellowed by life experience to be in war? The answer was underscored last night at the Broadway opening night of “Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo” a blisteringly forthright play by Rajiv Joseph.
We know that what is held aloft as power has always been at the epicenter of human struggle. When a Bengal tiger, who is exquisitely interpreted by Robin Williams, is incarcerated at a zoo in Bagdad at the time of the US invasion, we know that what had heretofore been the tiger’s lost legacy, freedom, careens down to survival, hunger. It is at this survival nadir that all things higher disappear. And this is true of all humans in this play. Nothing is sacred except what is perceived as the most rudimentary survival for each character.
We can only be in awe then of the constraints and civility that are apparent during the triple Japanese crisis. Perhaps one reason is that basic instincts don’t reign over acquired civility. There is a group sense of us more meaningful than me.
Herein lies the message of this play as well as the Japanese crisis for me. Humans needs to be ripened enough to understand that power doesn’t lie only with the aggrandizement of “ME” as the endgame. The tiger becomes the Greek chorus, wailing at a God who is unfathomable, unknowable and most sadly unavailable.
We should never send individuals into war, but call upon the collective conscience of a society to do what is right. Let us not, like the tiger and all the exquisitely talented cast of Bengal Tiger, become ghosts walking through the graveyard of our desires.