On October 20, the Haymaker theatre company opened their two-and-a-half-week run of Living with the Tiger, directed by Colin Hovde. Haymaker, a new theatre company housed in Durham’s Manbites Dog Theater, is comprised of three actors who collaborated to write and perform this unconventional show. Although the premise revolves around domesticated tigers across America, the content raises questions that point to the heart of the American way. Good theatre does not provide answers but raises questions; and from the script to the set design, Tiger does just that. The minimalist set, comprised solely of cardboard boxes emblazoned with American company logos, ends up consuming the entirety of the stage. The three-actor show, seen October 22, begins with the story of Susie, played by Emily Hill, a classic overachiever who decides that domesticating a tiger will win her ultimate success. Her story intertwines with the story of Pat, played by Dan VanHoozer, a low-brow nobody who believes a tiger will recharge his life. Advised on occasional visits from great American heroes such as George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, all of whom are played by Akiva Fox, both characters are faced with the consequences of their actions.

With all the press surrounding an Ohio man’s domesticated exotic animals, Living with the Tiger could not have arrived at a better time. The associated news exemplifies Haymaker’s message: How far is too far? And not just when it comes to our pets. Audiences are forced to examine the metaphorical “tigers” in their own lives. How do we quantify success? What do we, as Americans, require to feel successful, and are the consequences worth the cost? Living with the Tiger poses these questions and more.

Effective lighting by Megan Thrift and the efficient transitions established by the company provide a clear and concise message in the appropriately intimate space. Haymaker brings the Triangle area a stimulating show, ushering in an exciting new art form.

Living with the Tigercontinues through November 5. For details, see the sidebar.