The only redeeming feature of this play is the strength of Lucy Roslyn’s legs. Keeping the pose of chimpanzee Goody for an hour, Roslyn bounces and clambers around the stage, doing all she can to make the audience laugh as they consider escaping their own cage of the theatre.
Jesse Rutherford struggles more with his role of Goody’s abusive owner Frances. With slack body language and a lack of variation in his voice, his impressions are tricky to tell apart, and neither humour nor dominance flows easily from him. Frances’s authority is never realised, creating a power dynamic that has no space to play in. He is an insecure owner who turns to violence every time he can’t control Goody, but the relationship between them is not strong enough to make us care.
Where the play really suffers is the logic of its language. At first Goody communicates through sign language. Sporadically, she speaks aloud, either to Frances or to announce subtext, clumsily thrown into the script like dung at an annoying zookeeper. Frances sometimes hears and sometimes doesn’t. It sometimes matters and sometimes doesn’t. The script falters and drags. The logical thread is dropped so many times I think it must have got tangled in Goody’s cage, and no one bothers to unpick it.
As Frances and Goody half-heartedly search for comfort in the damaged love of the other, this play is essentially a weakly-told story of a lonely man gaslighting a chimpanzee.