by Emma Adams.
Theatre 503 above The Latchmere 503 Battersea Park Road SW11 3BW To 2 May 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Sun 5pm. (Pay what you can Sun.)
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7978 7040.
Review: William Russell 13 April.
A glorious Grimm black comedy.
Animals is a very funny, very disturbing look at a world in which old age is licensed. When the license runs out, an exterminator comes to help the aged depart this life.
Things are not much better for the young. When they reach 18 they face a test to decide whether they live happily until the ever-after catches up with them, or serve-out their days as comforters of men.
Norma, beautifully played by Marlene Sidaway, is a 77 year-old termagant living with home-help Joy, a fifty-nine year old drudge not as dim as she first appears, equally well-played by Sadie Shimmin.
It is 2046, the seas have risen, and the women are coping with life in their waterlogged bungalow. Meanwhile, strapping exterminator Noah is worrying about his intellectually challenged teenage daughter, Maya, whose 18th birthday is due.
Maya is not stupid, but behaves like a precocious nine year old, believes in witches, fairies and pink balloons, and is clearly going to fail that test. Add a neighbour called Helen, well-played by Cara Chase, who is much better at coping with life’s little problems than she admits, and has a splendidly potent brew. As in all fairy tales, there is a more or less happy ending as well as murder, witches, ogres, sex, innocent maidens and drugs – magic potions anyway.
Animals, however, cries-out for a revolve. Max Dorey’s set makes the best of it, but the plot demands a bit more than he can devise.
Director Lisa Cagnacci keeps things moving briskly and secures decent performances, though she should have calmed Milly Thomas’s Maya a mite. Thomas tackles her tricky role with a little too much zest, making Maya irritating, instead of the gullible innocent one wants to survive rather than strangle.
It is no fault of the actor, who has come up with a perfectly intelligent reading of the role. It could be partly the way the role is written, but Ms Cagnacci should have exercised more control. That said, this first-rate play, as good a black comedy as there has been in ages, deserves a future with more resources.
Norma: Marlene Sidaway.
Joy: Sadie Shimmin.
Helen: Cara Chase.
Noah: Steve Hansell.
Maya: Milly Thomas.
Director: Lisa Cagnacci.
Designer: Max Dorey.
Lighting: Johanna Town.
Sound: Max Pappenheim.