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. More…
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.
"Simply fantastic...Leonard and Finneran are terrific. They're naturally funny and find the humor so easily, yet they can turn deadly serious on a dime, and not seem false...Spontaneously performed, the words just sounded so fresh and new...'The Zoo Story' remains as funny and as terrifying as ever... Sparks' Jerry...found a terrific balance of smart, funny, scary and sad...The way Albee uses language, in both acts, is masterful. Obviously. I loved every minute of watching the show." Full Review
"This Signature production is valuable because we see these two dramas made into one that literally spans the life of one of our greatest playwrights...Remarkable in the way it illustrates a through-line in Albee’s oeuvre...The Signature production is near perfect. The real standout among a very strong cast is Paul Sparks as Jerry...Ms. Neugebauer deserves a lot of credit for exploiting Mr. Sparks' remarkable talent." Full Review
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Lila Neugebauer has directed these two one-acts to bring out their naturalism. In the past, 'The Zoo Story' was usually performed with an odd, surreal quality. Neugebauer has given the conversations a flow that reveals this play to be about people, not walking symbols, a lesson Albee had thoroughly absorbed by the time he wrote 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'" Full Review
"A wonderfully acted and polished production directed by Lila Neugebauer, makes the two halves, the play itself, cohere brilliantly...Leonard is excellent as the husband unwilling to be stirred, rumpled and benign, and Finneran is just as natural as his first chivvier...Sparks is so good that he puts the audience on edge immediately...In the final cataclysm of the play we see how fast and devastatingly humans can be pushed to their limits." Full Review
"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
"The two plays written 45 years apart, are now performed together offering audiences a chance to see the brilliance of a great American writer evolve across decades. Coursing with his characteristic sexuality, from the explicit to the implicit, the play offers a compelling exploration of the disconnection between people as seen through mundane, performative interactions...Thoroughly captivating, tour-de-force performances by the cast under the exquisite direction of Neugebauer." Full Review
"Robert Sean Leonard, Katie Finneran and Paul Sparks all provide a deep understanding of and respect for the characters they play. I felt like I was spying on two very private scenes. Andrew Lieberman’s set design is fabulously sparse...Our attention is on the words spoken, the cadence of the language, the inflection of emotion. And the stark difference between Peter’s life and Jerry’s." Full Review
"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
"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
"'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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"It's easy to see how the more recently written play clarifies the early one, especially deepening the character of the stodgy publishing executive Peter...In 'Homelife, his wife, Ann (Finneran, and talk about simmering), seems to be longing for something rougher, more animalistic, in their marriage...Meticulously staged by Neugebauer, Jerry brings out those animal instincts in Peter, with a powerful ending that drew gasps the night I saw it." Full Review
"Albee's world is a bleak place, and yet it’s so much fun to be there, at least from the audience’s side of things. The new production of two of Albee’s short plays does his difficult world proud...Although Paul Sparks, as Jerry, starts by capturing the perfect creepy-charismatic balance, his performance depends too much on a small bag of mad tricks...Life is strange, says the brilliant Albee...In Albee’s disturbing vision, it’s also compelling, brilliant theater." Full Review
"Together with her talented cast, Albee’s crisp-as-ever writing, and an estimable contribution from scenic designer Andrew Lieberman, Neugebauer has crafted a production full of meticulously muted human longing...The great success of both Finneran and Sparks is showing us how Ann and Jerry are on exploratory journeys as they speak to Peter...Ultimately, this production shows how 'At Home at the Zoo' is about the space between that desire and execution." Full Review
"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
See it if you enjoy intelligent theatre. Great performances by Finneran, Leonard Sparks. Terrific staging by Lila Neugebauer.
Don't see it if musical comedies are your passion. This is a great combination of a classic play with a contemporary one shedding light on one character.
See it if you are an Albee fan because it's a great production of one of his best plays and if a terrific trio of actors thrills you.
Don't see it if you are a fan of musicals or easy-going theater because these will not be your idea of a fun night out
See it if You care about theater, about language, about GREAT acting, about extraordinary staging and an astonishing script
Don't see it if You don't like theater, great plays and language, passionate performing or absolutely intense and absorbing theater
See it if you're an Albee fan, you like smart humor and repartee, you like paired down theatre, you enjoy being intellectually stimulated
Don't see it if you don't like to think too much when you go to the theatre, you're not an Albee fan, you want more bang for your buck when you go to a show
See it if This show is excellent for straight-play lovers and Albee fans; great to see both back to back.
Don't see it if If you don't like straight plays, this is not for you.
See it if you want to see why Albee was one of our greatest playwrights dating back to his 1958 first play. Incredible cast and direction. WOW!!!
Don't see it if you are looking for fluff with more scenery than substance.
See it if you have a soft spot for Albee's works. This play was cast perfectly- just as I imagined they would look and sound when I read it years ago.
Don't see it if You aren't a fan of Albee, repetitiveness in dialogue, or minimalist staging/props.
See it if You enjoy seeing the workings of interpersonal relationships, and plays that can hold their own with only 2 characters
Don't see it if Need a large cast and extensive sets, are not interested in storytelling.
See it if You like excellent acting, mystery in writing and an honest portrayal of a severely disturbed person
Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with ambiguity and threatening behavior, and somewhat explicit sexual material
See it if you are an Albee fan like me, if you want to see great acting by 3 performers at the top of their game, if you like edgy, minimalist drama.
Don't see it if you don't like Albee, you want something light or fluffy, you don't like "talky" plays or if you are offended by talk of sex in a play.
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
See it if Get to see two stages of Albee in one-- his fantasies of becoming animal remain compelling.
Don't see it if It's true that At Home doesn't have the completeness of the Zoo -- but it's actually much stronger than I'd heard or expected.
See it if you want to be immersed in the lives of three people through well-written dialogue and strong performances. Albee captures people perfectly.
Don't see it if you cannot imagine the settings as the stage is almost bare. Your attention needs to be on the dialogue, character motion & body language.
See it if You want to see a fresh, vibrant staging not usually afforded Albee’s word play. Ms. Neugebauer wields a steady, solid hand here.
Don't see it if You are not a fan of two-act stories sharing only the smallest fragment of commonality.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies