I finally made it to the King’s Head Theatre and the first thing I hear when ordering a drink at the pub bar is the applause – I am here for the late performance at 9.30pm but the previous one seems to have convinced the audience already.
Inside, I am surprised how big the stage is for tonight’s monodrama “Awkward conversations with Animals I f***ed”. Flyers, posters and tweets promise a grotesque comedy and I have agreed to see it because my favourite Woody Allen short film is about a dentist who falls in love with a sheep named Daisy and ends up heartbroken and drinking wool detergent (it also led to the discovery that sodomy mean different things in German and English but that is another topic).
On stage we meet big-eyed Bobby in his sparse bed room, living out of plastic bags and a lone shelf, decorated with newspaper cut outs of African animals. Having fled a party’s awkward conversations with people who do not want him there, he met a dog though on his way home. And apparently one thing led to another, and now we are witnessing Bobby’s post-sex pillow talk. Every cliché statement said in the morning afterwards (both in film and real live) will come out of his mouth which make this play a hilarious parody of both dating films and polygamy alike. Bobby seems to enjoy it – and dogs do not talk back, or mind him keeping his socks on during action. Neither do the cat, the goat or the monkey he will pick up in a nearer future. And the conversations outside his bedroom, in the real world as he refers to, become still more awkward.
With his new bed companions he shares a lot of what is going on in his head, and that is funny and odd and make this play weirdly believable: About him losing his job in the call centre for animal aid fundraising (for being too passionate), about his ambitions to go to Africa and see the wildlife there one day, and about his father who left the family only to start a new one nearby. There is a lot of loneliness and immaturity in Bobby’s narrative, but mainly it is a story of someone who could never keep up and had no one committing to him ever. Regrettably, the world is full of people in similar circumstances. Maybe a reminder of that is only bearable through a bizarre comedy?
Written by Rob Hayes, starring Linus Karp
**** out of 5 stars
Tickets from £10, played until April at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington, North London