dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Soft Animals review at Soho Theatre, London – ‘a delicate debut play’

Ellie Piercy and Bianca Stephens in Soft Animals at Soho Theatre, London. Photo: Helen Maybanks

As friendships go, the one between Sarah (Ellie Piercy) and Frankie (Bianca Stephens) falls into the ‘unlikely’ category. On paper, the women tick all the opposite demographic boxes: Sarah is a white yummy mummy from Fulham used to ski trips, Frankie is a black undergrad from Birmingham hiding an unplanned pregnancy.

But it’s not just these obvious differences that underpin the strangeness of their companionship in Holly Robinson’s debut play, Soft Animals. The pair meet in the aftermath of a terrible accident that has left Sarah’s young daughter, Rosie, dead. Frankie, by tragic happenstance, was the one to discover the body. Uninvited, she starts visiting Sarah.

Both women perform their roles with neatly moderated intensity. Given the subject matter, it would be easy to descend into melodrama, but both keep the exchanges believably gentle.

Both women are punishing themselves in their own ways, Sarah by deliberately hanging out at London tourist attractions wearing the same clothes as in the now-infamous police mug shot published in the tabloids, and Frankie by having violent sex with unknown men.

At points, the plot slightly stretches credulity and passages of dialogue are a little clunky. But Robinson’s basic premise is an interesting one and she adds in some memorable details – in particular the themed plush toys Sarah brings back from every visitor attraction.

As a debut play it demonstrates a talent for capturing the contradictions and complexities of human relationships and, like the cuddly creatures of its title, it has a soft core.

Soho Theatre appoints David Luff as creative director in leadership restructure

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Delicate new writing about a friendship formed through tragedy
^