Attenborough and his Animals
Attenborough and his Animals is a gloriously silly show. Joyful and exuberant with hilarious animal impressions woven together by Sir David’s dulcet tones in commentary, and the audience laughing virtually non-stop.
The basic premise is that Sir David is unavailable, as are the animals but the show must go on – and go on it does with Jess and Jonathon taking on all the roles.
The mimicry is superb – not only Jonathon’s brilliant take on Sir David’s delivery (which he sustains throughout the show) but also Jess’ wonderful animal noises, songs and mating calls.
Both Jess and Jonathon are graduates of the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, a Paris school of physical theatre and both display their great talents in physical comedy, mime, impressions and clowning delivered with impressive stamina.
The show has no sets, no props and no special costumes. But still, between them Jess and Jonathon conjure up delightful imitations and caricatures of animals from across the globe, and revisit some famous set-pieces from Sir David’s many wildlife specials.
For the most part Jess embodies the various animals and Jonathon provides the naturalist commentary but he also takes on many animal personas in the various ensemble pieces – pursuing the crab on the beach, losing the fight for dominance between the male kangaroos, being mummy to the young orangutan and so on.
A feature of the show is Jess‘ brilliant facial expressions and I think her komodo dragon face was probably my favourite – the big lizard tongue darting in and out and the eyes ever vigilant as though the front row patrons might be the next delicious meal.
The show is undoubtedly, and very successfully, played for laughs but there is also a subtle, light-hearted message about the impacts of pollution and climate change which weaves its way through the cast of animals.
I get the feeling that if the great man, Sir David, were to see this show, he would be delighted – the same enthusiasm and love of animals that he is famous for shining through in the performance.