Dangerous Giant Animals
Solo-performance theatre is becoming an ever-popular form and a piece that deals with the difficulties of having a disabled family member has strong potential. Modern plays have dealt with the topic through black humour, such as A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Kill Me Now, and the promotion for Dangerous Giant Animals suggests this will be no different.
The show begins promisingly as writer and performer Christina Murdock begins her narrative, engagingly playing Claire as an effervescent seven-year-old talking of brighter times with her family and disabled sister, Kaya. As the performance develops, the story tells us of Kaya’s developing aggression, strain on the family, which ends in a divorce, and builds up to a physical confrontation between the protagonist and her sister.
It is when these developments occur that the challenges of a one-person show prove difficult. The lack of variety in the performer’s vocal delivery when depicting the other characters causes the piece to lose dramatic engagement. As Claire’s relationship with her sister becomes tenser, the scenes have a numbing repetitive impact where she seems to just repeatedly tell Kaya to stop doing things and in the final physical confrontation, where Murdock tries to recreate the fraught combat between two people, the physical storytelling is so garbled that the tension of the moment is notably lost.
Technically, perhaps because the actor is aware of her multi-rolling or physical storytelling limitations, the piece relies upon underscoring sound effects to help create a sombre or solemn atmosphere, but the recurrent ominous rumbling or spare piano interludes that provide a bed for so much of the action prove more overused than complementary.
In fact, the most notable flaw is the lack of connection between performer and audience. In such an intimate space, viewers would expect an actor to engage them with eye contact to draw them into the narrative. However, there is spectacularly little connection here.
Altogether, Dangerous Giant Animals highlights more about the challenges and difficulties of solo-performance theatre than those experienced when living with a family member who has a disability.
Photo: Dangerous Giant Animals Facebook
Dangerous Giant Animals is at the Pit from 6th until 10th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the show’s festival page here.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.