Through a series of slightly disjointed comic scenes, two actors, Pete and Kim, tell the story of three different relationships.
The concept is interesting and the actors are good - although the overall show could be more polished
The first one is between Alex, a famous grey parrot, and Irene Pepperberg, the animal psychologist who trained him to speak. The second is between Peter, a dolphin, and Margaret Howe Lovatt, a NASA-funded scientist who is trying to train him to speak, this time in the hope of learning how to communicate with extra-terrestrials. The experiment caused a sensation in its day because of the sexual relationship which Margaret is alleged to have had with Peter. The third relationship is Pete and Kim’s own. The concept is interesting and the actors are good, although the overall show could be more polished in its execution.
These are interesting and original subjects. It’s unusual to see theatre made about human-animal communication and the duo deserve credit for this innovation – as well as for bringing these fascinating true stories to life. It’s also well-acted as the pair deliver an endearing high-energy performance mingling dialogue, movement and fourth-wall-breaking narration which is very entertaining. There’s also great chemistry between the two of them.
However, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. There are some scenes which, individually, are lovely but they don’t necessarily seem to fit together beyond the fact that many of them concern training animals to talk. There are some common themes that run through the three tales, such as communication barriers and uncertain futures, but these are nebulous and the message is unclear. Are the human-animal relationships allegorical for their own one? As the show goes on, the pace drops, the novelty of the premise wears off and the show starts to feel more repetitive.
The set and costume are low and colourful, and they lend the production the feel of a cheap and cheerful sketch-show. A dolphin onesie, a parrot costume, some snorkelling gear, a paddling pool, a stool to perch on, some multi-coloured feathers, and a glittery tinsel curtain all grace the stage at various points.
This production has a strong cast and the bones of a good show. It just needs a little more work on to drawing out its themes and reducing repetitions, for its imaginative content to really shine.