Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo play


This is a play written by Rajiv Joseph. The story is narrated by theghost of a zoo tiger who wanders through Baghdad as he searches forthe meaning of life. The story focuses on the life of two Americansoldiers who were in the Iraq war and an Iraqi translator. The storyfollows the lives of the two Americans as they go back to theirnormal lives after the war. The main characters were the tiger, Musaas the Iraqi gardener, tom and Kev (the soldiers), day as the deadson of Saddam and Hadia as an Iraqi teenager.

The play opened with a scene at the zoo with guards (the Americansoldiers) and the tiger. The tiger driven by hunger attempts to biteoff one of the guard’s hand but is shot by the other guard. Thetiger dies but lives on in the story as a ghost haunting many of thecharacters. The rest of the show after this scene involved theinteraction between the living characters and the dead ones.

This play has a number of themes, the major ones being supernaturalforces and impact of war on soldier’s lives. I found a religiousaspect to it because the tiger existing as a ghost signifies thatthere is an afterlife. This play seeks to expose the trauma that oursoldiers go through after war. As depicted in the play they havenightmares and hallucinations. Leading a normal life becomes reallydifficult because of this.

I found the play to be a bit violent and gruesomehence age restricting. Children cannot watch it as there are numerousviolent scenes that can be traumatic to them. At some point in theplay there is a character who carries around the injured and detachedhead of his dead brother while in another scene a woman is raped.There is also use of strong language that can be disturbing tochildren.

All in all it wasa well scripted play. It is a delightful mix of horror, dark humor,philosophy and reality. I found the performance by the cast to beimpressive.


Rajiv Joseph:Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad zoo, 2009.