Fringe Performance

Like Animals


four stars

Over and over comes the instruction:‘say better!’. And Peter the dolphin (in the 60’s) and Alex the grey parrot (in the 70’s) valiantly attempt to replicate the English words that scientists are speaking at them. The dolphin project came to nothing, the parrot eventually memorised over 250 words - impressive, eh? But is learning by rote the same as understanding? or communicating? These questions hover over the opening sequences in Like Animals, when Peter Lannon and Kim Donohoe re-enact some of the documented material from those experiments - he shape-shifts adroitly into the critters, she acquires the “say better!” habit and the results (directed by Ellie Dubois) are cleverly and deliberately entertaining. So - we might not be able to talk to the animals, or vice versa, but surely we can talk to each other? This is where the comedy gives way to discomfitting truths about language, meaning and intention. When he says ‘I love you’ her answer is “say better!” But how? Despite eight years of togetherness as a couple, there is no guarantee that they actually do understand each other’s language. It’s a poignant twist, convincingly handled by both performers in a production that asks chewy questions - but wisely avoids dogmatic answers!

until 25 August, 2.15pm

The Beautiful Game

Zoo Playground

four stars

There’s scarcely room on-stage for anyone to be off-side, but Nottingham-based Next Door Dance defy limitations when it comes to whole-heartedly celebrating football. Voice-overs supply the background atmospheres - players, coaches and commentators evoking the highs and lows of the game - but it’s the four performers’ body language and dance sequences that catch the physical and emotional investment that football demands from those on - and off - the pitch. The section showing fans at a match is brilliantly comedic, with facial expressions and graphic gestures running the whole gamut from euphoria to despair - funny, but in no way mocking the rituals, loyalty and bonding that make the game so beautiful to so many.

until 26 August, 2pm

Mary Brennan