Like Animals (3 stars)

This article is from 2019

Like Animals

credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Poetic and absurd piece examines emotional attachment in its most oppressive form 

Like Animals opens with Pete and Kim, a couple who quickly switch characters and become a dolphin and a parrot. The animals take their history from famous scientific studies, in which both species were subjected to learning English. 'Loving' bonds with the trainers were formed to their detriment; encounters which Like Animals examines in parallel with human relationships.

Through dreamlike 'human' scenes and laughter-inducing animal imitations, the show examines emotional attachment in its most oppressive form. The long-term couple are displayed as reliant but loveless, entwined but distant and the animals similarly unfulfilled.

Peter the dolphin is used to draw upon the true case of a 1960s study undertaken by Margaret Howe Lovatt, during which she had sexual encounters with her dolphin subject. The show makes light of this for the most part, scratching only at the surface of its severity. Despite laughter filling the room, this leaves a dark aftertaste.

Themes of love and communication (or lack of) are explored from an unusual, fresh and engaging angle; however, the continuous shifting between poetic and absurd is hard to get accustomed to in parts. The play delivers its topic in the manner promised, but sheds no conclusions on the complexity of love.

Summerhall, until 25 Aug (not 12, 19), 2.15pm, £12 (£10).

Like Animals

  • 3 stars

Play about human and not-so-human communication in relationships, inspired by actual research into animal language.