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  Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at Lookingglass Theatre

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Lookingglass Theatre
821 N Michigan Ave Chicago

The New York Times called this ferocious Tony Award-nominated dark comedy "a savagely funny and visionary new work of American Theatre." Two US Marines and an Iraqi translator are thrust into a world of greed, mystery and betrayal after an encounter with a now-deceased but still very pissed-off tiger. The streets of war-torn Baghdad are filled with ghosts, riddles and wry humor in Rajiv Joseph's groundbreaking play that explores the power and perils of human nature.

Thru - Mar 17, 2013

Price: $28-$70

Show Type: Dark Comedy

Box Office: 312-337-0665

Running Time: 2hrs, 10mins; one intermission

Lookingglass Theatre Seating Chart

Nearby Restaurants

  Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...One of the great strengths of this work is how Joseph charts the way anything and everything that was good and pure in Iraq was destroyed by a succession of plunderers and invaders, such as Uday Hussein (an unstinting Kareem Bandealy), who makes an appearance looking like a 1970s porn star."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Joseph's play, a Pulitzer Prize finalist that fared less than brilliantly on Broadway (despite the presence of Robin Williams), is receiving a ferociously acted Chicago premiere under the fine direction of Heidi Stillman. It is a good bet that no one will walk away from it feeling indifferent. I saw one handsome young man glued to his seat well after the lights came up, very clearly attempting to process all that had unfolded."
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Hedy Weiss

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Director Heidi Stillman and her well-trained cast make the time pass quickly for the two-and-a-quarter hours (one intermission) of their narrative's duration, so when you go home unsure of what you just witnessed-and you won't be alone, if opening-night audience response is any measure-be assured that there's no one single answer to what lesson lies in Joseph's parable."

Mary Shen Barnidge

Centerstage - Recommended

"...Director Heidi Stillman has created a world where you never know what will happen next, and the violence inherent in her world seems shocking and all too necessary at the same time. Ms. Stillman's action never stops, even when we wish it would. Walter Owen Briggs and JJ Philips give us portraits of soldiers that are aware of the unnecessary nature of their involvement, but just trying to stay alive and sane at the same time. Anish Jethmani's Musa is a man tortured by the events of his past and present, and it's only a matter of time before something goes horribly wrong. Kareem Bandealy has a great time with Uday's evil nature. We almost admire his frankness. It's unfortunate, however, that Troy West's Tiger doesn't really get where he needs to go. His movements seem listless, and his questions idle."

Bill Gorman

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...Indeed, ghosts abound in Joseph’s entrancingly surreal, dark-humored work. The tiger prowls the landscape in search of meaning in what he must now assume is God’s creation, but only encounters—and occasionally creates—more shades like himself. Tom is consumed by his phantom limb, while Musa tries to escape Uday’s lingering influence. These lost spirits find more and more information, but answers? In Stillman’s brutal and dynamic staging, this fascinating, fractious fairy tale suggests those may be ever out of our reach."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...The reason this play succeeds is the quality of the actors Ms. Stillman has cast including the brilliant Mr. West as the questioning tiger; the downright creepy Kareem Bandealy who gives us a manic Uday and Anish Jethmalani as the anguished Musa. But it is the extraordinary performances of Mr. Briggs and Mr. Phillips that will live with you long after you walk out of the theatre proper. Their once simple relationship as serviceman gets morphed into a much bigger questioning of brotherhood, loyalty, trust, love and forgiveness with Mr. Phillips giving one of the best performances I have seen is a very, very long time."

Michael J. Roberts

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...To be engulfed by the despair that sweeps over "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," which Lookingglass Theatre and director Heidi Stillman have turned into one of the peak stage experiences of this season, is to be reminded of the spiritual nausea that seized Jean-Paul Sartre and other French existentialist playwrights who watched their own world getting blown to pieces in the 1940s."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...Lookingglass maintains its reputation for visual flair, from the stark setting of the tiger's erstwhile home - the Baghdad zoo - to the magical garden constructed by Musa before the war. Scenic designer Daniel Ostling's decision to dangle animal topiaries like figures in a nursery mobile injects a pleasantly fanciful note (the topiaries constructed by Sean K. Walters). Director Heidi Stillman sets a steady tempo, balancing magical realism with the jagged acceleration of the play's events."
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Erika Mikkalo

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...Lookingglass's production has much to be praised, putting their well-deserved talents for the spectacular and the image-heavy to good use. Scenic designer Daniel Ostling's animal topiaries-whimsically suspended from the fly space-provide just the right touch of magic necessary to counterbalance BTBZ's otherwise macabre realism. And Heidi Stillman's direction follows up with an almost dream-like pacing, never sacrificing the play's surrealist excursions to its forward-leaning narrative. And she's equally successful in soliciting strong performances from the cast. Notable is Kareem Bandealy's imposing turn as Uday Hussein, rendered all the more frightening by his immense charms and personal bravado. And Walter Owen Briggs and JJ Phillips are equally capable as the two US Marines, bringing the right amount of vulnerability to otherwise overly self-assured characters. Anish Jethmalani's depiction of Musa-a man always on the wrong side of history-is profoundly moving, and Troy West's take on the Tiger is aptly understated, preferring the wryly casual to the overwrought and forced."
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Anthony J Mangini

Chicago Theatre Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Directed by ensemble member Heidi Stillman, this tale of the tiger in Baghdad is at times shocking and provocative, but the pace is sometimes too drawn out. This would be a difficult script to direct, balancing the realism with the other worldly conventions. I get the shocking visuals and story lines; however, I wanted to be more drawn to the people. The set (Daniel Ostling) was appropriately magical and supported the story well. The sound design (Rick Sims) deserves a shout out. It really made the show for me."

Lazlo Collins

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Not Recommended

"...Playwright Joseph obviously has much on his mind beyond the noise made by his main characters. There is the "war is hell" theme, showing how the violence of warfare brutalizes and desensitizes its participants. The tiger delves into more theological issues, calling out God for allowing so much suffering and destruction to run unchecked and demanding answers to why God has shown so much indifference, or maybe incompetence, or maybe malice, toward the living creatures on Earth."

Dan Zeff

  Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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