Tank review at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh – ‘precision and verve’
From a Beanfield in Wiltshire to a flooded research office in the Caribbean, the fast-rising Breach Theatre has produced a quieter, more finely calibrated follow-up to last year’s Total Theatre Award-winning hit. Tank takes the same documentary theatre elements and applies them to the infamous dolphin communication experiments of the early 1960s. You might know them as ‘that time the woman fell in love with a dolphin and then wanked him off’, which, as Breach explains with precision and verve, is part of the problem.
Though the cruelty and futility of the experiments are made clear through witty but disturbing re-enactments drawn from original transcripts, Tank is as much about the subsequent sexualisation of the somewhat hapless Margaret Howe Lovatt, and the warm and fuzzy associations we have with tripped-out hippy ‘science’.
Ironically describing the stories sexual elements as “the best bit”, Breach continues its gimlet-eyed interrogation of reportage and the selective persistence of narratives. Its presentation is clear and witty, its depth of questioning is merciless – no stone is left unturned, no myth un-busted. Tank guts the LSD dolphin love-in story with the sharpest of hooks, leaving an unappealing corpse of exploitation, prurience and white male egos run rampant.