Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve F*cked ☆☆☆
Kings Head Theatre, Islington, London
Following a critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, LINUS KARP brings his performance of Rob Hayes’ one-man show, ‘Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve F*cked’ to London’s Kings Head Theatre.
KARP gives an engagingly vulnerable performance as Bobby, as we move through a series of vignettes in which he goes from one bestial encounter to another, from dog to cat to goat to monkey and finally a bear that we’re led to understand will kill him.
This is dark psychological territory, dosed with a good dollop of humour (“I’d fit a cat flap but I’m not a slut”), and there’s a nice sense of plot progression as we discover details of his life – he works for an animal conservation charity, from which he gets fired for being too passionate about the animals, has a bad relationship with his father which may or may not have been sexually abusive during his childhood, and has had bad experiences with women.
All of this is rather subtle – a bit too subtle for my liking. Sex with animals isn’t consensual yet the play never addresses this, which is a shame. Bestiality is a very complex sexual psychology and the play moves quickly from its light, humorous beginning to the dark, suicidal ending without fully earning that dramatic trajectory.
KARP does a great job of conversing with non-existent animals and his performance is flawless (directed by KATHERINE ARMITAGE) but I would have liked more exploration of the subject matter. These are all one-off encounters rather than ‘meaningful relationships’ with the animals in question. He dismisses a recent attempt at sex with a woman by calling her a bitch and tells us his father thinks he is gay, but these important elements are mentioned in passing and not elaborated into his story in any meaningful way. There is never any sense of where this desire comes from, how it originated, what he feels about this.
https://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/ Until 27th April 2019
Review by Jonathan Kemp
Queerguru London Correspondent Jonathan Kemp writes fiction and non-fiction and teaches creative writing at Middlesex University. He is the author of two novels – London Triptych (2010), which won the 2011 Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, and Ghosting (2015) – and the short-story collection Twentysix. (2011, all published by Myriad Editions). Non-fiction works include The Penetrated Male (2012) and Homotopia?: Gay Identity, Sameness and the Politics of Desire (2015, both Punctum Books).