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‘At Home at the Zoo’ review: Animal magnetism from Edward Albee

Robert Sean Leonard and Katie Finneran play husband

Robert Sean Leonard and Katie Finneran play husband and wife in Edward Albee's "At Home at the Zoo" at Signature Theatre. Credit: Joan Marcus

WHAT “At Home at the Zoo”

WHERE Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

INFO $30; 212-244-7529, signaturetheatre.org

BOTTOM LINE From Edward Albee, something old, something new.

Sometimes a good idea needs to simmer. So it seems with the late Edward Albee, who nearly 50 years after 1958’s “The Zoo Story,” his first success, embellished on the story with “Homelife,” a prequel of sorts.

The two are now performed together as “At Home at the Zoo” and in the current production at Signature Theatre, it’s easy to see how the more recently written play clarifies the early one, especially deepening the character of the stodgy publishing executive Peter (an appropriately introspective Robert Sean Leonard), who alone appears in both.

In “Homelife,” his wife, Ann (Katie Finneran, and talk about simmering), seems to be longing for something rougher, more animalistic, in their marriage. A perplexed Peter seeks solace in the park, where “The Zoo Story” begins as he’s confronted by a stranger named Jerry (an on-fire Paul Sparks). Gradually, as meticulously staged by Lila Neugebauer, Jerry brings out those animal instincts in Peter, with a powerful ending that drew gasps the night I saw it.

What’s really too bad is that Albee (who died in 2016 at his home in Montauk) is no longer around to finish the story. I, for one, long to hear what Peter might have said to Ann when he finally got back from the park that fateful afternoon.

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