Zoo @ Assembly George Square Studios

Touching two-hander about an unlikely friendship, a terrifying hurricane and amazing animal facts

Review by Grace Lavender | 17 Aug 2018

Written by Lily Bevan (Talking to Strangers) and co-directed by Bevan and Hamish MacDougall (winner of Pleasance Comedy Show of the Year 2017 for Hammerhead) it comes as no surprise that Zoo is such a well-made and immaculately performed play. Performers Lorna Beckett and Bevan bring this touching two-hander alive, leaving the audience in stitches along the way.

The play is inspired by a real-life TV interview with a zookeeper in Florida as she was preparing the zoo for Hurricane Irma in 2017. Bonnie, played by Bevan, is a bubbly American who loves her job at the zoo. In an extended flashback, she meets Carol (Beckett), the rather severe bat enthusiast from North Yorkshire at a talk on Giant Otters. Here begins a long-distance friendship between the pair, and over the course of the play, the two women, who are so different to each other, are able to open up to one another.

Both actors perfectly balance the complexities of their characters. Bevan’s Bonnie is smiley and caring, but not without depth and emotional complexity. Equally, Carol’s stern exterior is no mask for the trauma that she has been through. The pair are able to keep the laughs coming, although there is real emotional depth to this show.

Zoo is a funny and poignant exploration of female friendship and responsibilities. Despite some swearing and sexual references, it is perfect for all the family, and is peppered with bizarre but true animal facts bound to make everyone laugh (did you know sloths are the only animals on earth that don’t fart?) MacDougall, Bevan and Beckett have crafted a play that is hilarious and moving.

Zoo, Assembly George Square Studios, 11:00, until 26 Aug, £11.50

Scroll on to read more of The Skinny's 2018 Edinburgh Fringe theatre reviews; click here for a round-up of all the best reviews from this year's comedy and theatre programmes