Review: Tiger, VAULT Festival

“It’s a good idea, some people might find it funny”

Grief does funny things to people. Different things too. Some retreat into themselves, trapped in a fug of isolation they can’t see a way out of. Others go out of their way to show the world that everything is fine, going so far as to dress up in a tiger suit, even if they’re dying on the inside. Joe Eyre’s Tiger, directed by Will Maynard, brings the two together with some cheesecake, some yoga, a whole lotta David Bowie and a brand of neatly intelligent comedy.

Comedian Alice is the one experiencing the first kind of grief. Utterly poleaxed by the death of a loved one, she’s completely withdrawn from the outside world and even from her doctor boyfriend Oli, whose patience is being stretched to breaking point after six long months. The hunt for a flatmate brings a man dressed as a tiger to their front door replete with a suite of knock knock jokes and a chink of light in the darkness of Alice’s depression. 

Eyre writes emotively about the grim realities of living with depression, and also living with other people with depression. The way in which it can seem easier to talk to a stranger than to someone close to you, the impossible demand to ask for understanding from others about that which you barely comprehend yourself, the smothering sense that there’s just no way out accompanied by a nuanced read on suicidal thoughts.

And for all this, Tiger is also funny. Stephanie Lane’s Alice has a masterly deadpan wit as she works her way through something so difficult, and Joe Corrigall’s garrulous Tiger is a fascinatingly layered presence whose own behaviour masks his own tragedy. And there’s excellent work from James Burton’s Oli, scarcely believing his girlfriend can open up to a man in a tiger suit but not to him, a medical professional with yoga skillz. Whether cheesecake really is more effective than counselling remains unsure, but Eyre’s message of remembering those who love you is golden. 

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 18th February

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