“Tiger,” the latest feline-infused spectacle at Omnibus Theatre, pounces into the heart of grief, blending a dash of physics, a sprinkle of silliness, and a touch of Star Wars energy. I found myself drawn into the eccentric world of Al and Ollie, a couple grappling with loss, love, and an unexpected tenant – a Tiger with a penchant for more than just tea. With a script that treads the delicate line between sorrow and silliness, “Tiger” invites the audience to explore the wild terrain of coping mechanisms.
The Claws of Grief
The play unravels within the cozy confines of Al (Poppy Allen-Quarmby) and Ollie’s (Luke Nunn) flat, where financial struggles force them to rent out their spare room. Enter Tiger (Meg Lewis), not with a growl, but with a quirky charm reminiscent of Forrest Gump meets Jar Jar Binks.
The narrative takes a twist as Al unveils the haunting reason behind her hiatus from stand-up comedy – the death of her father, leaving her wrestling with a grief so profound it can only be tamed by an unusual approach. And as Tiger feels more and more like a part of the family, things suddenly get weirder… And more silly. But can grief be overcome by clowning?
Claws Out for Characters
Tiger slowly emerges as the star of the show. Their American zest and classic knock-knock jokes add a roar of humour to the play, all thanks to Meg Lewis’s fantastic hyper energy and cat-like stage movement. Their every move is well-thought and planned to match the feline-like being: from slowly crawling on the floor, to taking big, cat-like steps in every scene. I was a huge fan of the attention to detail that went into making Tiger… well… Tiger. The play maintains a slow burn, skillfully weaving the mystery surrounding Tiger’s existence and the blurred lines between reality and imagination until the very end. The audience is kept on the edge, questioning the authenticity of Tiger and the characters’ experiences – but it’s a very pleasant feeling, and I appreciate letting the viewers do their thinking rather than serving them answers on a silver platter.
Ollie, the “voice of reason” and a science enthusiast, is a character who tries to be supportive in any way he can – but panics when he can’t find solutions. The scene of confrontation between Ollie and Tiger, where Ollie attempts to unveil Tiger’s head from under the helmet, was the moment when I felt the change in the character – and the desperation that almost turned into physical aggression. Luke Nunn did a great job portraying Ollie and step by step showcasing the evolution of his willingness to help, slump into giving up, and then awkward conversations with Al after their big fight.
Al, the relatable and realistic protagonist, guides the audience through the jungle of grief with her spark, charisma, and unexpected bursts of emotion. Poppy Allen-Quarmby’s performance, including a playful scene with an imaginary lightsaber, creates a connection that makes you wish you could just be there for her. As she grapples with her grief, the journey becomes both touching and relatable. It’s a complex role and was approached with great care and focus – I’m looking forward to seeing Allen-Quarmby in the next show!
Purring with Purpose
In the background of the main story, the collaboration with Trinity Hospice really shines through. The show’s team visited the hospice to understand various grief theories. They took that knowledge and used it to shape different approaches and situations in the play. The characters in the story deal with grief in diverse ways – Ollie takes a serious and medicine-based approach, Tiger escapes from it, and Al embraces extremes. This results in a detailed exploration of grief, adding richness to the storyline. Ultimately, it touches each person in the audience in a unique way. It’s pretty amazing how a play about such a sad topic can have such a universal impact.
From Whiskers to Tears
The most emotional part of the show is when Al delivers a touching stand-up monologue at the very end. She brings together the main themes and important words of the play in a powerful way. Trying to hold back tears the whole time, I couldn’t help but feel a rush of emotions when Al spoke directly to the audience.
“Tiger” is a rollercoaster of emotions, starting and ending with stand-up comedy performances. In between, it seamlessly blends Star Wars jokes, creative knock-knock humour, and scientific facts disguised as storytelling. It’s a nerdy, emotional journey that leaves you both warmed and aching inside, much like the journey through Al’s grief-stricken mind.
*I received the ticket to see the show in exchange for an honest review
7 Nov – 2 Dec