Robin Williams has wowed us with his wit and humor over the years, playing a host of memorable and quirky characters in movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting, and, of course, on television as Mork from Mork and Mindy. Currently he's taken a much more serious and unexpected role as a tiger in the Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.
While there is some comedy in the production, it's of the dark variety, as it deals with the somber matters of war. Williams, who has spent significant time overseas entertaining troops, says it was his experiences there that made him want to take on this project. He told the Los Angeles Times that his encounter with one solider suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome in particular influenced his decision though that's all he'll say.
In the play, Williams plays a tiger who eats a soldier's arm, then comes back as a ghost to ponder the philosophical issues of war. Reviews depict a play that's anything but easy to watch, as jokes are made amidst horrifying war acts, like a young girl being blown apart by a bomb. Williams told the paper, not everyone can handle it:
"I think a few people didn't know what they were getting into. The women would line up for the ladies' room, and you could hear them say" 'It's too dahhk! Where is the funny?'
While it's hard to imagine laughing about war when so many of our own and those around the world are living amidst it simultaneously, the play's director, Moisés Kaufman, offers a somewhat convincing explanation as to why, perhaps, there is laughter to be had from war.
There is so much absurdity in war that the play wouldn't have worked if it didn't have this ferocious humor. Robin gets the brutality, and he gets people to laugh at it, not in mockery, but in recognition.
It's still difficult to imagine chuckling about people being blown apart, but I think anything that highlights what our men and women are truly facing and bringing to light the brutality of war is important. Too often we choose to ignore it or just forget the lives being lost around the world in wars.
Reviews have been glowing for his serious acting and the play in general. From the Times Square Chronicles:
Robin Williams’ performance is smart, understated and savagely brutal as he states the obvious in a world gone mad. This is not a play for the masses but the intellectuals, who question, observe and are not afraid to acknowledge the degree to which humanity has allowed itself to fall.
Bravo to Williams for taking on this serious matter.
Would you like to see Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo?
Image via YouTube