Paul Ramon had not seen a play since high school, so we sent him to the Theater Three production of Rajiv Joseph's Iraqi war drama Bengal Tiger at the Baggdad Zoo.

The Broducers: An IT Manager Loses His Beer at ‘Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo’

We continue our occassional series in which we tap young Dallas-dwelling males, send them off to the theater, and see what they think of it all. Today’s dispatch is from Paul Ramon, a 31-year-old IT manager and musician who went to see Theatre Three’s production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. To read all the articles in this series, go here.

Paul Ramon

Name: Paul Ramon

Age: 31

Occupation: IT Manager / Musician

What’s your favorite TV show? That depends on the time of day, on a Sunday morning I sadly have to admit I play bad reality TV shows in the background of my naps. However, if I am paying attention it’s 100% The Walking Dead. Or is it Breaking Bad. Wait, I think its Shameless.

College sports. Who’s your team? Texas Tech Red Raiders. Football only, come on Tech practice at basketball, please.

Where did you grow up? Lubbock, TX. It’s left of here.

You have a free Saturday and can be anywhere in the world and do anything you want. What do you do? Vegas Baby, preferably comped by every casino I would like to visit, which is all of them.

The Report:

I have no clue what to wear to the theater. My theater knowledge extends to television and movies. Do I rent a tux; do I wear a suit? How do I answer my equally knowledgeable date when asked what to wear: a ball-gown, a very tight black dress (always yes), diamonds? For the record I went with jeans and a sweater.

Theatre Three is not initially easy to find, but then again, nothing in Uptown is “easy” to find. When we did find the theater my date and I decided, in order to make the evening worth-while, that we would, of course, have libations. This process became a bit convoluted due to having to buy “vouchers “ from the ticket booth, and then return to the line for the actual drinks. Of course, you only find this out after you’ve gone through that entire line. Ten dollars worth of Shiner Bocks later, and it was time to be seated.

The play wasn’t terrible; in fact, the experience in whole became one of the best nights I’ve had in years. Entering the theater you depart from your typical “Uptown” views, and are presented with a large space glaring down on an open stage, adorned with broken television playing old CNN footage of the Iraq war (I guess Fox News footage was too controversial).  With the exception of the bland small lobby, the theater feels much like an old cinema. Lightly playing over the PA was some great music. I took notes of the evening, and other than “spent pre-show on yellow chairs – that means something right???”, I documented my entrance thoroughly.  My first thought was, “Is this song by Rage Against the Machine”. The pre-show music gives the impression of “something important is about to happen,” so said my date.

As the lights dim and the show begins we are introduced to Tommy (Akron Watson), Kev (Parker Fitzgerald), and Tiger (Cliff Stephens), three people in the midst of the Iraqi conflict. Tiger is presented as the narrator, and immediately demands attention. Laying the groundwork for what is to come, Tiger tells us of the conflict him, and his ‘people’ have been through. Stress hits a peak moment as Tommy and Tiger go through a quasi-battle, laying the groundwork for what is to come.

At this point in the play I kind of got distracted. I lost my $5.00 Shiner Bock beer. See, I searched and searched, but it was gone, creating the now infamous moment of ‘the disappearing cold beverage.” Throughout the initial development of the first act all my mind could focus on was, “where on earth did my beer go, I mean, it was right here when I sat it down, now it is gone.” And search I did, nonstop, but quietly because: 1) I was in public, and 2) Decorum. While the beer still had yet to be found, I decided at this point it would probably be a good idea to pay attention to the play D Magazine had sent me to, so pay attention I did(ish).

The first act was predominately full of yelling and trying to figure out where some gold gun was. Apparently, having the gun of Saddam Hussein’s son is of great importance for our lead player, Tommy. The entirety of the first act was full of yelling about, “Where is the gun,” “Gun this, gun that,” “Gold,” and “Gun.”  During the first act we meet a translator named Musa (Blake Hackler). Musa’s role in the first act is to create an illusion of conflict due to his being an Iraqi citizen and figuring out how to work with the Marines that are currently occupying his homeland. There is clearly more going on with Musa than the simple eye can see, as he is dealing with balancing the loyalty of country verses commitment. Just before the intermission we face a critical point of conflict in the story, making Musa an integral part of the story.

During the intermission I learned that intermissions only last 15 minutes, which of course was announced. I also made a note of “the downstairs lounge is only downstairs,” so that must be important.

Act two starts with a roar, with Kev making a life changing choice, the story turns to a dark, yet entertaining pace. The entirety of this play has its soul in Act two. Hadia (Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso) is introduced as a prostitute helping Tommy with a “problem”. Her power as an actress, one of the few female roles, overtakes every scene she is in. Without speaking any words in English, Hadia brings the story to a thrilling close, bringing everything back to what Tiger told us about in the opening scenes.

I personally have not been to a play since I was in high school, and had great expectations of what the night would hold. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo not only fulfilled my expectations, but surpassed them. I would completely recommend that someone go to Theatre Three and see a show, soon. Especially if D Magazine is buying.

Photo: Parker Fitzgerald (Credit: Jeffrey Schmidt)