Set in a dystopian future where people are deemed ‘useless’ after the age of 70, Emma Adams’ play ‘Animals’ at Theatre503 predicts a dark future where older people must lie, steal and murder in order to stay alive.
Akin to the work of Philip Ridley, this dark satire follows the exploits of Norma (Marlene Sidaway), Joy (Sadie Shimmin) and Helen (Cara Chase); fighting to stay alive in a world which has decided they are little more than a drain on resources.
Norma, who is 77, is deemed useless by the state and will therefore be ‘cleared’ if she’s ever found out by a Utility Inspector. Utility Inspector Noah (Steve Hansell), is on his way: it’s his job to involuntarily euthanise anyone over seventy (unless their family has paid the ‘sentimental attachment fees’). Perhaps Noah’s daughter Maya (Milly Thomas) can help? Maya is seventeen and therefore a ‘little girl’, until tomorrow, when she turns 18 and has to sit a test to determine whether she is useful. She’s lost her daddy and has stumbled upon Norma’s house.
Credit must be given to the writer and director (Lisa Cagnacci), who, for the integrity of the piece, have cast actresses of the ages depicted in the play. This brings a truth and urgency to the piece that may not have been possible if younger women were playing the parts.
This is an interesting and thought-provoking piece of new writing and Adams has done an excellent job of creating a coherent and comprehensive future reality. However, I found the whole play to be a cerebral, rather than visceral, experience. Though I was interested in Norma’s dilemma, I’m not sure whether I cared all that much about what happened to her and her friends – the danger of turning people into ‘animals’ is that we stop caring about their fate. Perhaps this was the playwright’s intention: to turn the audience of Theatre503 into the society of the future – indifferent to the fate of the older generation.
Reviewed by Jody Tranter
Photo: Richard Davenport
Animals is playing at Theatre 503 until 3 May 2015. Click here for more information and to book tickets