Insane Animals proved to be every bit as fun and colourful as I had expected it to be after attending the press event a couple of weeks ago. The glitter curtains that director Phillip McMahon had shown us backstage were drawn in all their glory before the start of the show and provided a colourful backdrop to most of the first act.
What I was not expecting was just how witty cabaret duo Bourgeois and Maurice would be: cleverly interacting with the audience when we least expected it. With complete stage presence, moving with effortless elegance in their bright, futuristic costumes, they kept the audience totally engaged and in fits of laughter throughout with their quick, sharp and witty humour.
By using the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, the two touched on many important problems in our modern society: from what forms of power are legitimate, living in the moment versus achieving immortality in a digital age, and the appropriate punishment for someone who has done evil deeds.
Lockie Chapman, who played the infamous authoritarian, King Gilgamesh, perfectly encapsulated the various stages his character goes through: from evil dictator to being rendered vulnerable in his love for newcomer ‘wild’ man Enkidu. The song ‘Gay for You’ was both hilarious and heart-warming as we saw the seemingly cold-hearted king soften as he falls in love with Enkidu.
The second act (spoiler) transported us from the ancient kingdom of Uruk to the present day. For me, this act truly brought Bourgeois and Maurice’s creative genius to the forefront with their cleverly written lyrics in ‘Welcome to Today’. They somehow managed to actually sum up what has happened in the last forty centuries, “from bitcoin to penicillin”, and to concisely explain the problems that the digital age has brought to the world we live in: “private lives are the property of a few corporations”.
The song ‘Meat Machine’ dealt with immortality in the cyber space, which really showed the ridiculousness of the social media influencer phenomenon, and how concerned people are today with their online presence.
Emer Dineen’s performance was particularly impressive as she transforms herself from the sexual seductress of the first act to a shallow millennial who is obsessed with the idea of placing human consciousness into the digital stratosphere.
This musical successfully managed, as Lockie told us a couple of weeks ago, to “take this old story and pummel it into the 21st century”. Insane Animals was undoubtably a fun and wild spectacle, but was also expertly balanced with an underlying commentary on the constant flux of the modern world we live in today.
Insane Animals runs at HOME Theatre until the 14th of March.