Animal Reviews

New play Animal has opened at the Park Theatre in London.

This new play is by Jon Bradfield from a story by Jon Bradfield and Josh Hepple, and won the first Through the Mill Prize and was shortlisted for the Papatango Prize.

Animal explores how disability, sexuality and lust co-exist for people who require round-the-clock assistance, and centres on David, who is gay, disabled and profoundly horny!

David can’t eat, drink or shower by himself without an assistant, let alone the rest. Totally inexperienced and refusing to let his impairment stop him, David embarks on a sexual and romantic odyssey, armed with wit, charm and impressive nudes – although somebody else had to take them. 

Animal stars Christopher John-slater as David, Amy Loughton as Jill, Matt Ayleigh as Derek/Nuno, Harry Singh as Mani/Michael, Joshua Liburd as Liam, and William Oxborrow as Rob/Ray/Alan/Dad.

The creative team includes writer – Jon Bradfield; story Originator – Josh Hepple; director – Bronagh Lagan; set And Costume Designer – Gregor Donnelly; lighting Designer – Derek Anderson; sound Designer – Julian Starr; video Designer – Matt Powell; assistant Director – Teenie Macleod; movement Director – Cathy Waller; access Consultant – Cathy Waller; intimacy Director – Robbie Taylor Hunt; production Manager (manchester/ London) – Ian Taylor (for E-stage); production Manager (bristol) – Tabitha Piggott (for E-stage); casting Director – Jane Deitch; assistant Designer – Ryan Webster; costume Supervisor – Nicole Bowden; company Stage Manager – Mel Berry; assistant Stage Manager – Reuben Bojang; and assistant Stage Manager – Elsie O’Rourke.

Check out reviews, below, for the play, including the Times, Telegraph, Stage and more.

Animal runs at the Park Theatre until 20 May 2023.

Book tickets to Animal at the Park Theatre in London

Animal reviews

The Times

"A mischievous, unforgettable look at dating culture"

"What a joy to discover a play that is so bold, so outspoken and so thoroughly unpredictable. Jon Bradfield’s portrait of a young gay man whose sexual appetite is thwarted by his cerebral palsy could easily have turned maudlin or, worse still, become another example of theatre as megaphone politics. Instead, it’s alternately angry and mischievous, droll and unforgettably poignant."

"Much of the sex in the director Bronagh Lagan’s production is perfunctory and, on one occasion anyway, unexpectedly brutal, yet unlike that interminable Ivo van Hove misery - fest A Little Life — pulling in the crowds in the West End — the bleakness is redeemed by the central character’s humour and resilience."

"Full marks to the cast."

"To be absolutely honest, I wasn’t able to catch parts of David’s speeches, although it was usually possible to get the gist from the other characters’ reactions. Would surtitles help? Or would that be patronising? Whatever the answer, this co-production with the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester certainly deserves to be seen on a bigger stage as soon as possible."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Stage

"Fails to snap into motion"

"Meandering exploration of what dating is like for disabled people"

"... though there are vivid, emotionally exposing moments, and despite a strong production from Bronagh Lagan, the play dawdles frustratingly, never reaching its full potential."

"As David, Christopher John-Slater has excellent comic timing, supported by Amy Loughton as his straight-talking friend and assistant Jill... But while their bickering and scraps get laugh after laugh, the writing feels more like a meandering sitcom than a fully fledged drama."

"The biggest blunder is the decision to show David being horrifyingly sexually assaulted, without examining the incident’s effects. It’s a searing, vile scene that makes you want to look away. But without the appropriate follow-up, what is it there for? It feels curiously out of place."

"Lagan’s visually invigorating production feels aesthetically fresh and reflective of the digital age. It’s a pity that the writing doesn’t achieve the same sharpness."

Anya Ryan, The Stage
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"Hard-hitting but wildly entertaining comedy about the fraught dating life of David, a gay man with cerebral palsy"

"Jon Bradfield’s new play about a disabled man’s dating life covers a lot of serious subjects... But ultimately, ‘Animal’ is a zippy, poignant play about wanking. And it’s great."

"Disregard all your assumptions about what such a play might entail. The combination of Bradfield’s propulsive, fat-free dialogue and Slater-John’s brooding, hormone-charged performance ensure that ‘Animal’ never drags, preaches or befuddles. Yes, it’s hard-hitting, but Bronagh Lagan's lively production feels more like a feature-length, live episode of an award-winning sitcom. A really good one."

Joe Mackertich, TimeOut
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👤 📅24 April 2023
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📷 Main photo: Animal - Park Theatre. Photo by Piers Foley

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