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Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked review at King’s Head Theatre, London – ‘a nuanced performance’

Linus Karp in Awkward Conversations with Animals I've Fucked at the King's Head Theatre, London. Photo: Simon J Webb
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Though the title of Rob Hayes’ 2014 play is unashamedly provocative and unquestionably memorable, the piece itself is a fraught, often funny and ultimately tragic monologue about loneliness and abandonment.

In Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked, Bobby enjoys a little animal love. The play observes the pillow talk that follows each of these experiences. Shy at first, Bobby grows more confident as he makes his way through a menagerie – a dog, a cat, a goat and a surprisingly urbane monkey.

With each experience, however, we find out more about Bobby’s damaged relationship with his father and the consequential shyness that hampered his normal sexual development. You start off by feeling sorry for the animals and then, gradually, you empathise with Bobby.

Hayes’ play is nicely balanced, with the humour just about managing to diffuse the less-than-savoury details. Having played the role at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Linus Karp gives a fascinating and nuanced performance as Bobby. The awkwardness and pain of Bobby’s sexual and emotional displacement seeps into the actor’s physicality. Even during his most devil-may-care, post-coital moments, Karp seems permanently on edge, waiting for that knock at the door, willing somebody to care enough.

Katharine Armitage’s smooth, uncluttered production effectively captures the play’s gradual change in tone from awkward comedy to sympathetic drama and the fact that, despite the title, Hayes’ play is a lot more sad than it is shocking.

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Revival of Rob Hayes' provocatively titled tragicomic monologue featuring a nuanced performance