Animal is a visceral triumph



I had read a bit of background about this play, much lauded, and I was supposed to be going with a friend and thought I could get some feedback about the event that just unfolded after the show, not to be so I went on my ‘Pat Malone’ (‘on my own’ for the uninitiated in rhyming slang)…it was full on and I walked away thinking, as the father of two wonderful women, 22 and 18 how lucky we are.

Animal is a visceral, in your face physical performance; there are moments of scintillating mime, unheard screams for help, about the often personally unspoken harm perpetrated by a very small percentage of men on their children that is dominating the airwaves, putting doubt, worry, undeserved guilt on many males.

The stage and lighting set the scene for one of the most physical interpretative expression of the deepest pain of these two sisters, played by Kate Sherman and Nicci Wilks, who suffered from their, what I guessed, vicious, tampering itinerant trucky father.  The stage is displayed with 1000lt water pallets stacked in such a way to allow the awesome gymnastic and gritty performance from the two transparent players emphasizing the ‘hard country life’ and simple stage setting of 3 chairs and a table the use of which emphasises what I have described about the actor’s gymnastic ability…the exquisite timing must be seen to be believed.

The mood in all scenes is built on an amazing wall of sound that also interprets the presence of the many returns of the father with a haunting wailing of his truck’s horn sending the girls into the most emotionally raw frenzies and then drama ensues on the floor.

Desperately crawling, thrashing at the hands of their perpetrator, playing out…some excellent memories revived with their manic touch/chasey and other distractions that also touched on the effect abuse can download directly onto kids from their horror…big sister trying too hard in the end to ‘save’ her little sister, a shockingly real resolution some choose.

The use of the set was inspiring, every bit of this space and its set is dragged, slammed, climbed upon to create a crescendo of pain and then an apparent release metaphor dragging some pallets forward…this exploration hits hard and is as emotionally demanding for the audience as the actors.

From its quiet start until the final statement of iconism, the set design and intense use of projected text magically highlighted, this dual performance brilliantly directed by co writer Susie Dee had me trapped in the horror. I will think long about this play, an outstanding production.

Created by: Susie Dee, Kate Sherman & Nicci Wilks
Director: Susie Dee
Performers: Kate Sherman & Nicci Wilks
Composer: Kelly Ryall
Designer: Marg Horwell
Lighting Designer: Andy Turner
Text: Angus Cerini
Producer: Adam Fawcett
PM/SM: Carmel Duffy
Photographer: Pier Carthew

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