Robin Williams surprised critics with a "tame" performance in his Broadway debut at the official opening of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo in New York on Thursday night (31Mar11).
The play, which was a Pulitzer Prize runner-up in 2010 for best drama, explores the violence, chaos and traumatising events that emerged after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The funnyman, who plays a foul mouthed tiger, acts as a narrator.
And Williams' debut has impressed critics - the New York Times reports Williams acted with "focused intelligence and integrity" and manages to be "quite funny" despite the play's dark premise and dark humour.
In one of two Daily News theatre reviews, critics stated Williams "tames his manic persona" and "melds into the ensemble with a creditable lack of ego".
However, the other review, which praised Williams' acting skills, suggests the play "isn't as stirring as it strives to be".
But perhaps Williams' best review comes from the Los Angeles Times critic Charles MCNulty, who writes, "Grizzled and scruffy like a Robinson Crusoe castaway, Williams submits himself wholly to the play’s utterly natural surrealism. Concerns that the actor might turn this into a vehicle for his signature shtick are dispelled right way: Williams is in complete sync with the blasted tragicomic vision of the playwright, whose ample humor is far too sneaky for stand-up showboating."