These are technically two plays, not one, but Zoo Story is a one act and The Sandbox is super short, so they get put together for this write up. They were both written by the amazing author Edward Albee, best known for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Whenever people complain about how Philip Roth has never won the Nobel I always roll my eyes–because of Albee. He truly is an amazing writer.
Zoo Story was his first published play. In it, a well-to-do businessman sits on a park bench in Central Park when an alienated odd ball walks by and insists he talks to him because he’s just been to the zoo. From there, their conversation gets philosophical, personal, and, towards the end, tragic. It’s on the surface its reminiscent of Waiting for Godot, but deeper down it’s its own singular piece.
The Sandbox is a bit more out there. A young man is performing calisthenics in the corner of the stage as three people–a married couple and one of their mothers, who’s approaching senility–come on and relax at the “sandbox.” Eventually, the couple leaves behind the mother–and things only get stranger from there.
Both of these are excellent examples of the “theater of the absurd,” but The Sandbox can be a too much for some people (it was critically panned when it first came out). Zoo Story may not be the classic that Virginia Woolf is, but it’s still one in the “Albee canon.” Albee is not to be missed.