Keeping Tigers At Bay

The cast: Jeremy Kahn, Melissa Quine, Rebecca Schweitzer*, and Remi Sandri

In Tigers Be Still, the West Coast Premiere currently at San Francisco Playhouse by Kim Rosenstock, we find a young woman Sherry (Melissa Quine) having difficulty coping with unemployment and life in general after she earns her Masters Degree in Art Therapy.  Matters take a turn for the better once she gets hired as a substitute art teacher. Her sister Grace (Rebecca Schweitzer) has moved back home since her fiancee cheated on her.  Her entire existence has come down to chugging Jack Daniels and watching t.v.  

The principal of Sherry's school, Joseph (Remi Sandri) is in a perpetual state of forced optimism, and although his wife has recently died, he suppresses his emotions and pushes on.  Joseph's 18 year old son, Zack (Jeremy Kahn) is perhaps the most tragic of them all. With his mom's recent death, his uninspired job at CVS and no desire to go to college, his future looks bleak.  The 5th character in this story is unseen. Sherry and Grace's mother has been in her bedroom for months. She is also Joseph's ex-girlfriend which is the reason Sherry secured her job in the first place.  Oh, and a tiger has escaped from the local zoo!  

Kim Rosenstock's Tigers Be Still treats depression with wry humor.  Depression is repressed anger.  The "Tiger" is anger. Her characters need to break out of where they are stuck and move on with their lives.  Tigers Be Still is also about recovery.  All of the characters represent various stages of grieving or loss.  At the core of the play is hope about humanity and unexpected ways we help and heal each other.  Since the play is basically a comedy, all of the characters are hilarious.  They represent people stuck in situations we've all been in.  

Sherry's determination to help others beat off threats from their mental "tigers" is at the heart of the play.  We all root for them to get up their nerve to confront their various issues and defeat the tigers.  

Amy Glazer's direction is sharp, clear and perfectly timed.  Her pitch perfect cast are all marvelous in their roles.  Bill English comes through again with a flexible set that works remarkably well. Tigers Be Still continues at the SF Playhouse through July 30.  Performances are Tuesday-Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. plus Saturday at 3 p.m.  SF Playhouse is located at 533 Sutter Street (1block off Union Square) b/n Powell and Mason.  For tickets call 415-677-9596 or go online at

Coming up next at SF Playhouse will be Honey Brown Eyes by Stefanie Zadravec and directed by Susi Damilano opening Saturday, September 24, 2011.

Flora Lynn Isaacson