LEWISTON – So, you think you have problems? It’s nothing compared to the trials and tribulations faced by everyone in The Public Theater’s current production of “Tigers Be Still” by Kim Rosenstock.

That’s not to say it’s depressing. Just the opposite; “Tigers Be Still” is exceptionally entertaining, filled with laughs and hearty food for thought.
A top-notch cast of four successfully delivers another of the audience-pleasing shows that The Public Theatre does so well. It’s intriguingly different with some exaggerated situations that pretty much parallel anyone’s life experiences.
At various times, and for unrelated reasons, the two Wickman sisters and their mother have decided that they simply cannot cope with getting out of bed. Sometimes it’s for days, or weeks, or even months.
As Sherry tells the audience, she is working her way back to a kind of normalcy with hopes of finding work as an art therapist. Grace, a couple of years older, wallows in despair after a failed relationship, and she spends her days on the couch with reruns of “Top Gun” and a bottle of bourbon. Wanda, their mother, has gained weight and refuses to leave her bedroom.
All four of the actors are new to The TPT stage.
Anna O’Donoghue portrays Sherry with lots of enthusiasm. Despite her doubts about her effectiveness as a therapist and elementary school art teacher, she finds the keys to bringing the other troubled characters out their self-imposed void.
As Grace, the jilted sister, Rebecca Hart gives a good balance to the absurdity of her couch-potato existence and the unendurable pain of her romantic breakup.
Noah Witke, a recent graduate of the acting program at The Julliard School at Lincoln Center in New York City, gives an outstanding performance in the role of 19-year-old Zack. He’s a young man with anger-management issues, and his occasional flare-ups lend both humor and tension to the plot. Witke incorporates all-important sensitivity in the young man’s pivotal part in the play.
Joseph Tisa plays Zack’s father. He is the principal of the school where he asks Sherry to teach, and he also enlists her support as therapist for his son’s problems. Furthermore, there’s a long-ago connection with Wanda when they were king and queen of their high school prom, and the old flame is rekindled.
There are four characters in “Tiger Be Still,” but there are several others who are not seen but are important to the plot. Wanda is neither seen nor heard because she refuses to leave her bedroom. She communicates by cell phone with her daughters downstairs.
Also absent is Wanda’s husband, and the audience never sees Troy, the target of Grace’s excessive scorn and revenge.
Zack’s mother, Joseph’s wife, was killed in an auto accident, and she is a crucial character in the explanation of challenges faced by the man and son.
The tiger of the title is on the loose from a nearby zoo. Never seen, but frequently mentioned, the wild animal symbolizes fear and unpredictability of life.
The play’s imaginative set design keeps the action moving smoothly and swiftly. Center stage is the living room and the couch. With lighting changes and minimal props and furniture, areas to left and right become other locations ranging from the principal’s office to art classroom, neighborhood pharmacies, a pond, and even a shoe closet.
The set design for “Tigers Be Still” is the seventh done for TPT by Kit Mayer. He is a resident of western Wisconsin.
Lighting designer is Bart Garvey. He has been involved in TPT productions in one capacity or another since the theatre’s first season in 1991.
Costumes are by Joan Larkin Mather and scenic artist is Jennifer B. Madigan.
Remaining performances of “Tigers Be Still” are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Jan. 30 and 31; at both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2. For tickets call 782-3200 or go to the Web site at www.thepublictheatre.org.
The Public Theatre is at 31 Maple St., Lewiston.


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