6:12 drama group are kings of the zoo

Michael Garside and Stuart Newsome in 6:12's The Zoo Story.
Michael Garside and Stuart Newsome in 6:12's The Zoo Story.

6:12, The Zoo Story, Harrogate Studio Theatre.

6-12’s production of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story deserved to be played to more than the select few in the studio theatre. Performed by Stuart Newsome, playing Peter, and Michael Garside playing Jerry this was an intense hour of fast-paced dialogue.

Directed by Michael Garside, also playing Jerry, and brilliantly performed with flawless New York accents, this tells the story of Peter, a man simply wanting an afternoon’s solitude reading near the zoo when he is disturbingly interrupted by Jerry, whose first introduction is an abrupt “I went to the zoo today” repeated until he gains the attention he desperately seeks from Peter.

Peter politely yet cautiously interacts with him as Jerry’s intensity and unpredictable behaviour clearly needs to be met with trepidation.

Jerry’s determination to tell Peter what happened at the zoo that day begins to boil as he repeatedly digresses, revealing his isolated life spent watching the daily comings and goings of the neighbourhood from his apartment.

The play reaches its climax as Jerry vies for Peter’s place on the park bench. Peter’s patience and sanity at this point, breaks and he decides to fight his corner with tragic consequences.

The intensity of the performances genuinely left you feeling as if you had just witnessed some terrible and disturbing event. All made worse by never actually finding out what really did happen at the zoo!

Judith Fox