Review: Awkward Conversations With Animals I've F****d
Image: Lion & Unicorn Theatre
One-night stands are awkward.
One-night stands with animals are more awkward.
And when you're as desperate to please as Bobby, things get awkward as f*ck.
He's just a guy with too much love to give, and a burning desire to give it to consensual adult mammals.
Titles can be perplexing, requiring us to decode the author's message to reveal a play's true nature and subject.
On the face of it at least, the title of this play by Rob Hayes seems pretty clear and unambiguous - not much in the way of explanation required, perhaps.
The title obviously indicates that we're in the realm of zoophilia and bestiality, the former being 'a sexual fixation on non-human animals', and the latter being 'cross-species sexual activity between human and non-human animals'.
Not, perhaps, the kind of subject you might chat with your maiden aunt about over a croissant and a cup of darjeeling, you might think.
You'd be right - in a way.
Bobby is a young man who is socially awkward and sexually naive and inexperienced.
He works on the fund-raising phone lines for an animal charity, but yearns, as we learn after a while, to be out 'in the field' looking after animals.
So his life is actually not going along the path he'd really like.
But it's not his career that we first learn about.
At the start of this monologue, it's the morning after.
Bobby is just getting up and he's talking to his sexual partner of the night before ... a dog.
It's a one-sided conversation and we never hear the dog's views, not even a bark.
As Bobby simpers while discussing "man's best friend with benefits", we laugh.
In fact we laugh a lot, during most of the show.
While we're laughing, I wonder if we all realise that we're laughing at what is actually animal abuse.
I also wonder if Bobby is demented, psychologically disturbed and just what is driving him to have sex with a dog.
But it doesn't stop at the dog.
More romantic involvements are on the way, though I won't disclose their nature.
Now the title, as I said before, is pretty explicit - it describes perfectly what we actually hear during the course of this show.
But it takes a while for the penny to drop that this play is not really about bestiality, even if it might be about a young man whose psychological make-up might incorporate a hint of zoophilia.
An actor's body doesn't always matter too much to portray a character effectively.
But for Bobby, Linus Karp's slender frame and boyish looks perfectly describe his character's innate vulnerability - the play could have been written for him.
Mr Karp presents us with a polite, delicate and inoffensive young man who is out of his depth and swimming against the tide in terms of pretty-much all aspects of his life.
But it's only later in the play that we hear some of the reasons which brought him to turn to the animal world to provide some comfort and, possibly, acceptance.
Rob Hayes' cleverly-written play might have a clear, crowd-drawing title, but it also astutely employs laughter to keep the audience engrossed, while describing an outsider for whom life in human society has proved poignantly unsatisfying and maybe, incomprehensible.
Plenty of laughs are combined with a fascinating and sensitive performance by Linus Karp, to tell a moving story about a young man, adrift in his own society, who turns to the animal kingdom for succour.
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