A heartfelt exploration of the trouble with moving on, Joyus Gard’s production of Tiger is full of potential but somewhat misses its mark at this year’s VAULT Festival.
After their runaway success with Crocodile in 2017, Joyous Gard are back at VAULT Festival with another potentially carnivorous production, Tiger. We meet the show’s pajama clad heroine Alice – or Al- , stuck in a black hole. Facing the grief of losing someone close, she’s stopped working and doesn’t leave the house. Things seems to be spiralling quickly out of control until a man dressed in a tiger suit comes to interview for the spare room in her flat.
The man (who Al names Tiger…) is a cheesecake loving guy from New Jersey who bundles into her life armed with knock-knock jokes and Guys and Dolls quotes to draw her back into the world. He makes her laugh, much to the chagrin of her husband Oli. Eyre’s script deals sensitively with the bewildering reality of Alice’s depression, which she describes as an ever present flatmate whose sole aim in life is to make your life miserable.
While the initial premise is full of absurd potential, Tiger sticks to a more garden variety plotline that what you might expect. Tiger helps Al because he is different, because he’s silly. Because he is, as far as she can guess, flown straight out of a movie to bring colour back into her life. Will Maynard, the director, shows us in brief physical transitions the world Al and Tiger are building; they play and laugh and little by little ,Al begins to let go of the grief she is so desperate to hold onto. The show misses a trick by not showing us more of this world and leaning too heavily on the reality of the story. The fights between Al and her husband Oli become tedious and the finale of the play is melodramatic crescendo – undermining some of the quieter and more nuanced moments of the show.
Stephanie Lane heads up the show deftly with her portrayal of Al: she is touching, quick-witted and believable in her battle with the grief constantly threatening to swallow her whole. Joe Corrigall’s Tiger is full of charisma and the frustrated Oil (James Burton) does well in his scenes, although admittedly the character is not given much room to develop.
Tiger has some imaginative moments and the writing definitely shows promise, but ultimately falls into traps of cliche from which it can’t quite pull itself out.