Florence Read’s play takes place in a hotel room. An eccentric couple push and pull for each other’s attention as some kind of sinister plot unveils itself. What this plot is, however, is incredibly unclear. There is a high level of intrigue in the script, but no sufficient reveals, moments of revelation or any kind of pay-off. The main plot focuses on a single conversation between a couple as they wait for a woman to arrive, but the plot spins off into smaller vignettes where the couple act out various and seemingly unrelated scenarios - i.e. Jesus curing blindness. Thankfully the direction in these episodes is well thought-out and there is something nice about the simplicity of using pillows, bedcovers, and bottles of wine from the minibar as other objects to illustrate the scenes.
there was little variation from the hysterical and manic tone of the actors to do justice to the subtlety of the script
The acting style seems to jar with the content of the play, the couple often turning realistic scenarios into hugely overplayed melodrama. At first I believed it was a stylistic choice: the couple are supposed to be worried about how they are coming across, practicing being ‘normal’ in anticipation of the woman’s arrival. However, there was little variation from the hysterical and manic tone of the actors to do justice to the subtlety of the script.
If Children and Animals is supposed to be a social commentary it is over-acted and unclear. There are some interesting references and strange plot points that allude to child abuse, the moon landing conspiracy, gender roles, and perhaps even that children might be illegal. However, these are all brushed over, leaving the narrative unsettled with no more idea of what kind of world the play takes place in, or what the point of it all is, than at the beginning of the show.