Robin Williams’ Broadway Debut As a Tiger: How Is He?


No, it’s not The Book of Muslim–or The Book of Mork and Mindy either.

Nor is it Julie Taymor‘s long awaited return to vertebrae.

It’s a play about “a tiger that haunts the streets of present day Baghdad seeking the meaning of life.”

And Robin–who’s a bit of a bear–is the tiger. Got it?

Robin narrates the piece behind a mangled zoo cage, and then, after getting killed, he basically becomes the ghost of the tiger, which doesn’t stop him from talking at all!

He keeps pontificating while still roaming and searching for meaning amidst the ravages of war, always making sure to say “fuck” a lot.

His character’s material ranges between cutesy stuff (“You didn’t think I knew Dante, did you?”) and ragings against the heavens (“Explain yourself, for fuck’s sake!” he rails at God.)

At least he doesn’t sing “Fuck you in the cunt!”

At times the play is every bit as bad as that sounds, but Act Two grows a little more compelling–especially when it deals with a soldier with a prosthetic right hand paying a prostitute to jerk him off.

There’s also the matter of the animal topiaries and a gold toilet seat that’s going to be…no, you’ll have to see it for yourself, for fuck’s sake.

When a character’s gun was pointed right in the direction of my face, I thought, “Oy. At least it’s not another jukebox musical.”

PS: How’s Robin? Well, I would have liked more physicality in his performance, though he admirably doesn’t go for wild kingdom playacting like hammy sneers and growls.

He’s a solid anchoring presence–especially compared to the deeply annoying performance by the psycho soldier–but next time he should apply his stripes to a stronger vehicle.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 31, 2011

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