Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Review: Human Animals at the Royal Court

Human Animals 
Royal Court (Jerwood Space Upstairs)
Reviewed on Monday 6th June 2016

Dystopian dramas are all the rage at the moment, and Stef Smith's bold new piece Human Animals is another chilling play to add to that collection.

The Royal Court's upstairs space becomes a world where high numbers of pigeons, foxes and mice have been begun to plague the streets, forcing roads to be closed and parks to be burnt. As nature overtakes, humans are left to contemplate what this infestation of pests will mean for their future. Whose planet is this?

It's a neat - yet terrifying - idea, and Hamish Pirie's production is intensely alarming, cranking up the pressure in Camilla Clarke's claustrophobic cage setting.

There's some insightful believable relationships, particularly between mother Nancy and daughter Alex, played by Stella Gonet and Natalie Dew. Lisa McGrillis' neurotic turn as she watches her boyfriend Jamie, played by Ashley Zhangazha, fall apart is difficult yet powerful to watch. There's strong work from all six actors here.

At times a little muddy, Smith's play occasionally gets over excited and tries to tell us a little bit too much all at the same time, but it's thought provoking stuff. In a world which constantly surprises us, who knows whether this type of catastrophe could become all too familiar in the future.

Reviewed by Oliver Dowdeswell

Human Animals runs at the Royal Court until Saturday 18th June 2016.
Please visit www.royalcourttheatre.com for further information and tickets.

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