Human Nature

The Pride

Underbelly

Underbelly Productions, Perth Theatre Company (Australia) and Side Pony Productions

(Originally published here)

***

A surreal hour of comic drama, The Pride is a bizarre attempt to place the more developed aspects of animalistic behaviour – guarding your territory, hospitality laws, and possession of females – into a domestic setting. This sounds like a straightforward concept, until you discover that the three actors are making the metaphor glaringly obvious with their full-sized lion costumes.

It’s tongue in cheek, of course, and the joke does work: having two humans dressed as lions recording their musical answerphone message is certainly funny, as is having cuddly toy lions as their children that are thrown inconsiderately about the stage or dangled precariously from one arm. Bruce and Linda are a typical couple – settled down, having children – until Linda’s sisters decide to move in with them, which means the house must be renovated. Bruce needs assistance and decides to call on James, their next-door neighbour. James starts to help put up wallpaper and inevitably a power struggle between the two men ensues, often in a very funny form as even the most violent of encounters always being undercut by a gag.

If the piece is not taking itself seriously, however, the actors certainly are, throwing themselves into each exposé of human and animal logic with bravery and confidence. The actress playing Linda renders the emotional moment at which she leaves her husband behind particularly potent, a nice contrast to the rest of the silliness that makes up the rest of the play.

The main problem lies in the fact that the madness doesn’t seem to be controlled: the line between excellent physical comedy and messy chaos is a very fine one that this company has not quite managed to draw. There were moments that felt clunky, jokes that didn’t quite work, and some lengthy scene transitions, problems that could all be resolved with a little more time and rehearsing. There is a great deal of potential and potent humour in a lot of this play, but the moments of genius – such as the sunglasses sequence; if you see it, is wonderful – are spread a little thin.

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One thought on “Human Nature

  1. Pingback: 2012: Theatre Round-Up « yellowdrama

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