Worse Than Tigers

New Ohio Theatre, Manhattan

By Andrew Andrews

Humphrey (Braeson Herold) is startled awake on the sofa in The Mill Theatre’s production of Worse Than Tigers at the New Ohio Theatre in Greenwich Village. Original photo courtesy of The Mill.

What’s worse than tigers?

Tigers are enormous. Wild. Ferocious.

And when they escape from the zoo and start mauling everyone, Humphrey (Braeson Herold) and Olivia (Shannon Marie Sullivan) find themselves holed up in their living room, decorated in fifty shades of gray, unable to leave for fear of the beast that’s camped out in their front yard, waiting for them to open the door.

Which they do—but just long enough to let Kurt (Zach Wegner) inside.

Kurt’s a cop. A drunk, violent cop in a red shirt that adds a splash of color to the gray lives and wardrobes of Humphrey and Olivia.

Kurt’s violent, all right, but not violent enough to kill a tiger.

And Kurt and Olivia, it turns out, have something going on that Humprey isn’t aware of.

Until now.

But it’s still not worse than tigers.

So what is?

Through nearly two hours of Hitchcock-like suspense, Playwright Mark Chrisler helps us find the answer.

Full of subtle commentary on the whitewashing of modern relationships by social media and conflict avoidance, Olivia delivers quip after quip in the context of a bubble that’s ready to burst, just when it seems it was about to deflate:

“It says, ‘Jeff has died. Would you like to remove Jeff from your contact list?’”

“Don’t bother trying to keep me. I’ve been gone for years.”

“Life doesn’t need pain to be happy. Life needs pain to be life.”

“Don’t care about the commentary, care about the content!”

“Whatever happens to you is less important than how you respond to it.”

If you’ve suffered through a faltering relationship, you’ll surely be able to relate.

And even if you haven’t, the performance (directed by Jaclyn Biskup) is as gripping as a tiger’s claws, and the simply beautiful and metaphorical set (Matt Carlin, Caspin Jones and Kate Ducey) and coordinated costumes (Kristy Hall) are the best we’ve seen at the New Ohio Theatre.

So check out Worse Than Tigers, then come back here and tell us if it left you purring, or ripped you to shreds.

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Andrew Andrews attended Worse Than Tigers at New Ohio Theatre in Manhattan on Thursday, August 30, 2018 @ 8:00pm to write this review.