The Zoo Story

Written by Edward Albee

Thurs 23rd to Sat 25th September & Tues 28th September to Sat 2nd October 1993

Directed by Pete Woodward

A Double Bill from two of America's most distinguished playwrights, with both short plays being performed each night... Set in New York, The Zoo Story presents a harsh and stark portrait of modern urban life.

AuthorEdward Albee

Edward Albee (b 1928)

Albee was born in Virginia, USA and adopted by a wealthy theatre owner and his wife. A restless young man, he was expelled from several schools and colleges and left home permanently in his early teens. He supported himself with odd jobs while learning to write plays and his first work, 'The Zoo Story', was first staged in Berlin. Best known for 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', Albee's works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery of the Theatre of the Absurd and he is credited with helping to reinvent the post-war American theatre in the early 1960s by his daring mix of theatricalism and biting dialogue. Albee continues to experiment in new works and has dedicated much of his time to promoting American university theatre. He spoke frequently at colleges and served as a professor at the University of Houston from 1989 to 2003.

PlayThe Zoo Story

'The Zoo Story' is Edward Albee's first play; written in 1958 and completed in just three weeks. It was originally entitled Peter and Jerry. The play explores themes of isolation, loneliness, social disparity and dehumanisation in a commercial world. It premiered in West Berlin in 1959.

This one-act play concerns two characters, Peter and Jerry. Peter is a middle-class publishing executive with a wife, two daughters, two cats and two parakeets who lives in ignorance of the world outside his settled life. Jerry is an isolated and disheartened man who lives in a boarding house and is very troubled. These men meet on a park bench in New York City's Central Park. Jerry is desperate to have a meaningful conversation with another human being. He intrudes on Peter's peaceful state by interrogating him and forcing him to listen to stories from his life, including "The Story of Jerry and The Dog", and the reason behind his visit to the zoo. The action unfolds in front of the audience in real time. The elements of ironic humour and unrelenting dramatic suspense are brought to a climax when Jerry brings Peter down to his own savage level.

The Bench Production

Something Unspoken poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. It was part of a USA double Bill, with 'Something Unspoken' being staged in the first half of each evening and 'The Zoo Story' being staged after the interval.


PeterDavid Penrose
JerryAlan Jenkins


Director Pete Woodward
Stage Manager Alyse Ashton
Lighting Design Jacquie Penrose
Sound and Lighting Operation Tim Taylor
Front of House Sally Hartley

Director's Notes

Both plays being performed this evening were written by American playwrights in 1958. They are both played by two actors; and are firmly set in the USA.

They are, though quite different in content and tone, and it is this contrast - in what may outwardly seem a neat set of coincidences - that attracted me to the idea of presenting the two plays as a double bill.

Pete Woodward

Production Photographs