Awkward Conversations with Animals I've F*cked @ Underbelly

Awkward Conversations with Animals I've F*cked is exactly what it sounds like. Be prepared to cringe

Review by Jamie Dunn | 15 Aug 2018
  • Awkward Conversations With Animals I've F*cked

Enforcers of the Trades Description Act could have no beef with the content of Rob Hayes’ tragicomic play, Awkward Conversations With Animals I've F*cked; although the RSPCA might have a few words to say. We open in the shabby bedsit belonging to Barry, a pale, scrawny, unassuming young man who’s miraculously managed to pull the night before. He’s currently sitting in his vest and boxers, chatting with his sexual partner about all the adventurous things they did to each other’s bodies just a few hours ago. “You sniffed me like you meant it,” Barry giggles. Barry’s conquest has less to say about his performance, but then she’s a dog he picked up on the street.

Bobby continues to have one-way, post-coital conversations with members of the animal kingdom. He begins with man’s best friend, but his tastes get exponentially more exotic. While some genuine laughs are mined from Barry’s descriptions of the sex acts (he’s delighted to find out his canine friend isn’t limited, as rumour has it, to one specific sexual position) there are plenty of cheap ones too (he’s disappointed by the girth of the monkey who’s just buggered him). What makes many of these crude jokes fly isn’t that these outrageous sexplots are with animals, it’s that they’re being described by Bobby, a young man so timorous that you can’t picture him vigorously making love to anyone, man nor beast.

Adding to all this toe-curling is Swedish actor Linus Karp, whose mannered performance as Bobby pushes this absurd show from awkward to cringe. In the end, his flailing arms and stilted delivery sinks the show. As we acclimatise to the taboo-busting absurdity of Awkward Conversations..., it becomes clear this is a deeply sad work, exploring themes of loneliness, sexual repression and mental illness, but this is a performance so alienating in its neurotic intensity that it leaves you unable to connect to Haynes’ more melancholic tones.

Awkward Conversations with Animals I've F*cked, Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Button), 2-16 Aug, £9-£10

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