Tank (4 stars)

This article is from 2016


How teaching a dolphin to speak can make you reconsider the whole nature of theatre

If you've ever wondered what happens when you inject a dolphin with LSD, this is the show for you. But however sensationalist that might sound – and there are a few eyebrow-raising moments – Breach's audacious, expertly conceived and often very funny Tank is about far more: inter-species communication, the unavoidable need for love (from whatever quarters), and most importantly, the theatrical process itself.

It's based on the bizarre story of Margaret (human) and Peter (dolphin), who lived together in a flooded office for ten weeks as part of a NASA-funded project to teach cetaceans to speak English. Just a few tape fragments charting the project remain so they've had to fill in the gaps with their own ideas of what exactly took place.

And alongside tortuous, endless language lessons – delivered with actor Joe Boylan squawking dolphin-like noises into a microphone – those ideas include a growing affection between dolphin and human, leading to an icky but inevitable conclusion. The cast can never quite agree on their interpretation, leading to very funny contradictions and corrections about the tale flying across the space between them – and to the big question of how much of any of this we can believe. It's a highly intelligent, provocative show that also manages to be wildly entertaining – a tough feat, but one that Breach pulls off brilliantly.

Pleasance Dome, until 20 Aug, 10.30am, £7.50–£10 (£6.50–£9).


  • 4 stars

Breach In 1965, a researcher lived with a dolphin for ten weeks to try and teach him to speak English – part of a NASA-funded research project into human-animal communication. Condemned by the wider scientific community as an elaborate circus trick, the experiment remains a controversial episode in the space race between…