“Well, this is awkward”

Yes Bobby, yes it is.

Meet Bobby, played unfailingly awkwardly by Linus Karp, a twenty something with daddy issues so severe the only sexual gratification he receives is though one night stands with animals. At least that’s what I think we’re expected to take from this. It’s actually unclear what the main message is, a plight you might expect from a show where the title is so bluntly written and yet still so alien to us.

Bobby is an intelligent, thoughtful man trying to navigate his way through the ever awkward ‘morning after’ conversations with his one nights stands. He’s working pretty hard and getting very little back from them in the way of tête-à-tête, though this might be more due to his morning companion being a dog, cat, goat or even a disappointing primate escort.

I was ready to love this play, the name is so outrageous, so provocative, and I was expecting a show full of delicious absurdity. Instead, Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve F**ked, doesn’t quite cash the cheque written by its name. There’s very little narrative thread throughout, just the occasional references to past ‘lovers’ and Bobby’s very apparent issues with his father. The play is short, sixty minutes straight through, and the subject matter is novel enough that we don’t feel this lack of plot too keenly. However, around the 40 minute mark there’s shift in gear. Bobby loses some of his affable, awkward charm and conversation turns almost entirely to his father and their troubled relationship. It’s not totally coherent and whilst we do sympathise with this story when it’s told in snippets to his unnervingly quiet bed mates, as a standalone speech it doesn’t quite work.  

The main success of this production is that I liked Bobby. His attempts at one night stand etiquette were both amusing and uncomfortable to watch, and if the recipient had been human I think the audience might have even dared say it was relatable.

One speech in particular felt like a clear signpost of the piece’s intention, “I can euthanise you, I can eat you, but I can’t love you”. Bobby’s lamentation is similar to that seen in The Goat (Edward Albee), where society’s cruel and narrow treatment of animals is repeatedly soliloquised by its goat loving lead Martin.

Here Bobby is coming to what I feel should be the crux of the play; the utter control we can take over the lives of animals, and how we choose to exercise that control. I’m not suggesting I agree with his sentiments about the appropriate ways to ‘love’ animals, but it provided some food for thought.

Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve F**ked doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set by its name, however it’s occasionally poignant, often funny and splendidly unique writing worth exploring.

Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve F**ked is playing The Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 29th November. For more information and tickets, see www.lionandunicorntheatre.co.uk/awkward-conversations-with-animals-ive-fucked/