Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

About the show

This new production of the two-act drama, a revision and expansion of the 1959 classic 'The Zoo Story,' honors its author, the Signature Theatre Legacy Playwright Edward Albee, who passed away in 2016.

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In act one, 'Homelife,' we see Peter and his wife Ann in their Upper East Side apartment; in the second act, the classic 'The Zoo Story,' Peter is forever altered by an oddly persistent stranger in Central Park. With jolts of brutality and Albee’s signature dark humor, this seminal play explores both the love and the cruelty that we inflict on each other every day. The cast includes two-time Tony Award-winner Katie Finneran, Tony Award-winner Robert Sean Leonard, and Emmy Award-nominee Paul Sparks.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Village Voice

"Electrifying...Neugebauer unlocks something essential in this production. Freeing the text from notions of how Albee should be staged, she does away with the chilly, cerebral distance that can feel so stilted...Neugebauer lets the menace of the play arise from its animal wildness, the pleasure of it from its human comedy. Neugebauer is in her element, and we are in Albee's...This is what Neugebauer so vibrantly excavates: The feral geography of human impulse and desire." Full Review


"Leonard's soft, measured line deliveries betray Peter's effortless privilege...Finneran introduces a nagging dissatisfaction to this picture of bourgeois bliss...She interprets Albee's language with aching sincerity...Sparks makes a thrillingly unpredictable Jerry, accenting his performance with birdlike eyes and pointed modulations in his voice...Even if your mind drifts away during this short story masquerading as drama, you'll be jolted back to attention by the explosive final moments." Full Review


"Though both plays are intimate by nature, director Neugebauer takes full advantage of the large stage...Leonard's beautifully subtle Peter is all the more fascinating for the emotions he hides than the emotions he expresses...The plays do tend to come off more like acting exercises than the social commentary they hint at. Still, the opportunity to see the first major work by one of America's most iconic playwrights paired with one of his last, makes for an intriguing experience." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A superbly acted revival...A first-rate cast...The prequel provides further riffs on 'Zoo Story's' societal and personal themes, but in far less visceral fashion...Albee's decision to update 'Zoo Story' feels unfortunate; jarring anachronisms have the ironic effect of making the play feel more dated than it actually is...Nonetheless, it's a fascinating double bill...This staging benefits greatly from the terrific performances...Sparks is an acting tour-de-force that provides reason enough fo... Full Review

The New York Times

"Neugebauer's terrific production proves 'Homelife' to be an indispensably excellent work in its own right, and a suitable tribute to the playwright...The Signature staging has only a ghost to appease; it is much freer and funnier and thus more powerful...The same is true of the actors: They do not approach the play as an awesome classic but as a living organism. Mr. Leonard is very good...Finneran is spectacular." Full Review

Time Out New York

"A single drama Frankenstein-ed together out of two one-acts...Signature Theater follows Albee’s wish that the two be played as a single piece...It makes for an evening that's fully half bad. Yet there's good news: Thanks to the diamond like brilliance of Paul Sparks in 'Zoo', the show is unmissable...'Zoo Story' is a duet, beautifully orchestrated by director Lila Neugebauer. Leonard finds a world of grace notes to play, but the melody line belongs to Sparks, who prowls like a Muppet tiger." Full Review

What Should We Do?

"Superbly revived...The jazzily unpredictable conception of Jerry makes 'The Zoo Story' the more compelling half of the program...Sparks makes a full meal of Jerry...Finneran has comic chops galore...Leonard responds with expertly nuanced work...All three give master classes...Neugebauer directs with exacting precision and a fine ear for Albee's music...Richly satisfying: stage poetry, fine actors, and a fresh look at a writer who inventoried the forms of our civilized savagery." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Neugebauer's production is not ideal, but Albee's observations are still capable of chilling one to the bone...Neugebauer has found a nearly ideal pair of psychological fencers in Leonard and Finneran...'Homelife' doesn't land with as much force as it might...Sparks' Jerry improves greatly as he goes along...but it takes some time for his performance to gel...One has a sense of actors lost in a too-large space...Sometimes-problematic production of a slightly problematic work." Full Review

Theater Life

"'The Zoo Story,' Albee’s shattering one-act of alienation and violence which put him on the map back in 1959...This body-blow of a play asks disturbing questions on what it means to be a human being and how our materialistic society was changing our values...'Homelife' is definitely the lesser work. It follows the same template of many of his later pieces...Fortunately, director Lila Neugebauer injects the same vitality into these uneven halves." Full Review

New York Theater

"'Homelife' is decidedly second-tier Albee, a dry, oddly paced if witty look at a privileged, over-educated couple who are disconnected from one another and from themselves...Yet Neugebauer makes as good a case as seems possible for this play, thanks to the casting of Leonard and Finneran...Sparks, is spectacular...'The Zoo Story' still stands out; its vigor and humor and rage and sadness have not been destroyed by time, nor by its creator." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"I'm not sure…that 'Homelife' greatly illuminates what happens in the older play, where Peter's enigmatic character can be viewed as one of its strengths…Some of the dialogue has been updated but this makes other things, like the references to pornographic playing cards, seem almost anachronistic…Finneran offers passionate curiosity and grace…Sparks captures Jerry's angst and anger with scary friendliness...Leonard, offering an acting lesson in how to listen, is equally compelling." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"Masterly in its visual clarity and psychological acuity—though it cannot cover up the fact that Albee made a bad mistake when he wrote 'Homelife' and an even worse one when he yoked it to 'The Zoo Story'...Finneran’s performance is instantaneously involving, while Mr. Leonard brings off the wire-walking feat of being dull in an interesting way...Mr. Sparks’s performance is deliberately spectacular, and Ms. Neugebauer has framed it with the loving care of a curator." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Superbly acted and has so much to say...Leonard is perfect as Peter...Finneran makes us search inside ourselves for breaking the status quo. Every emotion shows in her face and body. But it is Sparks who is thrilling...He is unpredictable, and he is humanity on the verge of rebellion...Neugebauer directs this show with a conviction, making Albee's statements about class straightforward. We see what it takes to set off a time bomb in humanity." Full Review

New York Daily News

"'Homelife' still sounds like characters spouting an author’s ideas about cruelty and isolation — and not real talk. 'The Zoo Story' still manages to unsettle....Three winning performances show off each work to its best advantage...Finneran brings so much smarts, humor, vulnerability and a subtle jagged edge to Ann that you can't take eyes or ears off of her...Neugebauer's direction cannily underscores the unnerving closeness - and more often distance - between people." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Under the smart and solid direction of Lila Neugebauer, these ideas of isolation, loneliness, social disparity and the dehumanization of our population get an added layer of dissatisfaction and animalistic urges that are lying just underneath us all...Albee’s first one-act creation is an incredible construction, perfectly orchestrated like a mad symphony leading us toward a smashing ending that will bring down the house." Full Review


"A superbly cast, smartly directed production...I think if Mr. Albee were still with us, he'd be pleased...While 'Homecoming' does flesh out the picture of Peter as a man symbolizing the complacent, upper middle class, seeing it doesn't really diminish 'The Zoo Story' strength...Amusing as 'Homecoming' is, the sizzle still belongs to 'The Zoo Story'... And with the amazing Paul Sparks as Jerry, is quite a sizzler." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Sparks delivers a scintillating performance as Jerry...Leonard’s Peter provides a perfect foil to Jerry... Leonard skillfully navigate the playwright’s cat-and-mouse game bringing it to a horrific and somewhat unexpected ending. The audience hangs on Sparks’ every word...Under Neugebauer’s capable direction, the three actors distill Albee’s characters with authenticity and believability. No captives are taken here in this brilliant battle for survival, personhood, and forgiveness." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"It is hard to imagine a production that makes a stronger case for the conjoined plays. All three actors are superb in their roles...Leonard turns reacting into an art form. Finneran’s Ann is a sympathetic presence. Sparks’s Jerry is mesmerizing, deftly building the sense of menace. Even if you know what’s coming, you will be shocked. My only reservations are about 'Homelife'...However, as a warmup to the main event, it serves its purpose and the main event is not to be missed." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Ms. Neugebauer has a flair for finding a clear path through abstract works...A razor-sharp revival...In the hands of Ms. Neugebauer and a stellar cast, the two one-acts that Albee himself fused into a single work remain as relevant and psychologically true as they were more than a decade ago...The violence with which 'The Zoo Story' ends sadly no longer has the power to shock. Now it is more of a coda to a play that the director, her fine cast, and the design team have shown us to be timeless." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"As proved by its current, splendid incarnation at the Signature Theater, the work can still rouse us from our metaphorical slumbers and force us to reexamine how we interact with each other (and ourselves) on a daily basis. Much of the credit for this production’s success belongs to the sensitive direction of Lila Neugebauer, who obviously trusts both Albee’s words and her cast...Wallop of an ending, one which you will think about for days afterward." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"It’s realistic, warm, amusing, and to the outside observer, worrisome. Both actors are utterly natural... Paul Sparks is terrific. His quicksilver performance is like watching a fine jazz musician...Director Lila Neugebauer has encouraged performances like a capella vocals. Nothing interferes with or distracts from the inhabited reality of three people before us.Every move is dictated by the moment. Focus is absolute. Fastidious and discriminating work." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Evidence of why the late Albee was such an effective playwright is dynamically on display in the juxtaposition of his 'The Zoo Story' and 'Homelife', which he decreed must be performed together...Albee's dialogue demonstrates emotional gaps, emphasized with well-timed silences...The production affords the perfect opportunity to enjoy and scrutinize his work anew, thanks to the insightful staging by Neugebauer and the sublime acting of her cast." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Albee’s writing is so lean and nuanced that there are no lurches between madness and civilisation. Monstrousness here blends seamlessly into the fabric of normality...The expanded version broadens that psychodrama into a universal parable of man’s struggle to restrain his animal nature. Lila Neugebauer’s stripped-down staging suggests how fragile such bonds can be. And her 'Zoo' injects an electrifying dose of terror into the ersatz wilderness at the heart of New York." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The cast, under Lila Neugebauer's pitch-perfect direction, is superb. Paul Sparks brings a finely-calibrated mix of peevishness and unpredictability to the role of Jerry. And Katie Finneran, most familiar to me as a master comedienne, shows that she is equally deft at the drama stuff with her poignant portrayal of Ann. But the MVP is Robert Sean Leonard, whose role is the least flashy but the most essential and, in Leonard's fearless performance, the most devastating." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Magnificent writing...Lieberman smartly pushes all of the first act's confining action downstage, but opens up the entire space for the second act, adding several benches to the traditional set. It’s a choice that Neugebauer makes knowing that she’ll upset the purists. It leads to a rather expansive, oddly asymmetric 'Zoo Story,' where the stakes aren’t high enough...Albee’s script wants Peter and Jerry more trapped than Neugebauer’s staging suggests, and the end feels unearned." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky, Slow, Hilarious

See it if you want to see a day in the life on the UES turned on it's head via Greek shadow and humor.

Don't see it if you want to see distracting staging and fatty writing.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Masterful

See it if you are an Albee fan,

Don't see it if You want something light and fluffy

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to know what motivates the characters in his early zoo story. Hint: home life. It's the little things that do us in!

Don't see it if you are not into Edward Albee's humor, sorrow, and horror, done on an almost bare stage, with provocative characters and situations.Visceral

Absorbing, Clever, Intense

See it if you like Albee, and would like to see his earliest play-and the prequel he wrote later-beautifully acted and sensitively staged.

Don't see it if you don't like plays with strong adult themes, discussions of difficult topics, or (some) violence.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want to see a powerful, dark and unnerving show.

Don't see it if You do not like slow or dark material.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You want to see a stellar revival of a vintage Albee piece that only gets better with time

Don't see it if You aren't an Albee fan and like your plays light and frothy

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Great writing

See it if Zoo Story, on our dehumanized society, will feel vital after slogging through "Homelife." Finneran saves home, Sparks brings the animal home

Don't see it if 2 2-character 1-acts jawing about isolation will have you wanting a snooze on 1 of the benches. Absurd naturalism is for patient audiences.

Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in great acting and a thoughtful script.

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with sex or violence.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Profound, Quirky

See it if You want to see two acts of Robert Sean Leonard acting as the foil to two more colorful characters. Both plays keep you on your toes.

Don't see it if Don’t like a lot of dialogue and more in for a musical or more light hearted fare

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if you'd like to see a rework of Albee's earlier play and it's additional rewrite and a group of actors who have REALLY studied their Albee

Don't see it if you'd like the Virginia Woolf kind of Albee

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you love Albee; this is him at his dark, disturbing, oblique, hilarious best. Minimal set and terrific performances.

Don't see it if you need elaborate sets and you dislike having to focus on dialogue that leads you one direction but is really taking you somewhere else.

Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You like the conversations between married couples who have gotten use to each other and no longer have that spark which they need to mainta

Don't see it if If you need a bigger cast and/or setting.This was very simpe and effective enough for my taste.

Also in their relationship for the future.The wife in this play is definite... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Quirky, Talky, Well-directed, Strong acting

See it if you like Albee. If you find his writing insightful and funny, you'll have a grand time.

Don't see it if if you don't like Albee (I don't) His privileged, whiny characters annoy me. Jerry was scary (not charming) throughout. This was not for me.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Great direction

See it if you're an Albee fan and love his use of word-play and his incisive characterizations.

Don't see it if you're not willing to listen to his talky, often repetitive dialogue and would rather not focus on our darker sides.

Also Even though they were not originally intended to be performed together... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if Albee fan; humor and darkness; themes of loneliness, connections, communicating (and not); amazing performances

Don't see it if 2 seemingly unrelated acts would bother you or if you want more action; don't want a set that looks like a bunch of scribbles (I liked it)

Also The performances by Katie Finneran and Paul Sparks were wonderful. Rob... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you're an Albee fan and want to see some lesser-known works torn into by a game cast.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of Albee's cold, elliptical style or appreciate more realist stagings.

First of the two one acts was extraordinary; the second, better known, "zoo story" was somewhat dated and the directorial choices struck me as distracting. but do go for the first half: it is worth it.

See it if you like Albee and appreciate great acting. The first half is brilliant

Don't see it if you don't like Albee or you are expecting "Zoo Story" to be as good as the first time you saw it.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if A first class production of a classic play is for you . Terrific cast of three made this play crisp and current.

Don't see it if The idea of conflict between stranger bothers you and you wonder why someone just avoids a lethal situation.

Ambitious, Great acting, Quirky, Absurdist

See it if I liked the 1st half - it’s well acted and the writing is relevant and interesting to follow. The 2nd act was too absurd for my taste.

Don't see it if you prefer more classical plays. This one is too quirky and pretentious, especially the 2nd part.

Ambitious, Dizzying, Intense, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if You are an Albee fan. All others should pass.

Don't see it if Albee plays leave you cold.

Also I have seen more than my share of Albee plays: Virginia Woolf, Seascap... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You've never seen Albee's one act play Zoo Story. An edgy clash of classes that still rings in your ears after you've left the theater.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in the curious one act prelude that helps explain, perhaps unnecessarily, Zoo Story.

Also This is two one act plays that Edward Albee insisted be performed toge... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Masterful, Great writing, Fine performances, Suspenseful and probing

See it if Love Albee & would be fascinated to see a new "prologue" to a well-known work. The 1st act enriches the 2nd in great measure. Don't miss.

Don't see it if Don't like minimalism/absurdism, can't sit thru silences or want light fare. This is intense, precisely calibrated & mesmerizing.

Also Saw this in the Diamond Theatre at Signature Center, mid-March, 2018.

Albee's early crack at absurdism

See it if "Mister, I've been to the zoo" Albee's New Yorkers as animals. The first play was written 50 years after the second and they haven't matured

Don't see it if Robert Sean Leonard is the cypher of a husband who baffles his perky wife, the excellent Katie Finneran. Paul Sparks is the dangerous Jerry.

Also Peter's salary has gone up from $18,000 in the original 1960 script, t... Read more Read less

Funny, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you like good acting, directing was decent. A good story combining two of Albee's plays into one.

Don't see it if The set was not right for the first act, looked like a park wall rather then an apartment. If you don't like Albee.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Slow

See it if you're a fellow Albee fan. Every word has purpose, peeling away & revealing doubts, insecurities, and host of other facets of our humanity.

Don't see it if you need diverting set, costume, or sound design—it's an austere, intimate staging; you're uncomfie with graphic content or long silences.

Cast & Creatives (10)