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Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013

Staccato Quirkiness

Boulevard’s debut of ‘Tigers Be Still’

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The Boulevard Theatre opens the 2013-2014 season with the Wisconsin premiere of Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still. The quirky comedy stars the charming Shannon Tyburski as a young woman trying to get her life off the ground under less-than-ideal circumstances. She’s just started a job as an art therapist. Her assistant (Josh Wallace) is a handful. Her boss (Jaime Jastrab) is kind of inert. And her live-in older sister (Brooke Wegner) is locked in serious depression.

The script toys with a quirkiness it’s never quite able to carry off. The situations Rosenstock develops are interesting, but the dialogue never feels distinct enough to be terribly funny. It doesn’t help that there are a steady parade of scene changes. Boulevard’s compact space is excellent for those intimate moments in the script that balance comedy with overwhelmingly serious drama—moments the ensemble carries off quite well in places. But the constant fading to black and adjusting furniture makes for a staccato rhythm that never manages to build up momentum.

Tyburski is great fun to watch in this intimate space, as there are quite a few layers to her characterization. The rapport between her and Wallace seems a bit stilted, but since the characters don’t mesh together all that well, the awkwardness works. Tyburski’s scenes with Wegner come off quite brilliantly with one sister’s cheerfulness contrasting deliciously against the other’s deep, stagnant comic sadness. Wegner plays a whimsical kind of depression that finds amusement in its own sorrow. In its own way, Wegner’s performance here is every bit as irresistible as Tyburski’s.

The Boulevard Theatre’s production of Tigers Be Still runs through Aug. 18 at the Boulevard’s space on 2252 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. For tickets, call 414-744-5757 or visit boulevardtheatre.com.

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