Musician Natalie Russo starts the evening off by letting us know that this a relaxed performance and that we are free to leave or move around at any time. She then reveals that the show will be starting…now.
A body is seen on stage, and we’re led to believe that it is actor Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s a story about how he got there and what has happened since, and this is told by two Monkien. The Monkien (he/they) are non-human creatures that live in the attic. They don’t have family and often seem grumpy. What Monkien do have, however, is an interest in what makes us human, and a little bit of an obsession about their new friend/pet, Benedict Cumberbatch.
The lighting design by Lilli Fisher is extremely clear and effective, moving us along to different areas of the story, and there is obvious differentiation from when the audience are being spoken to or being directly involved. Audience participation is key to this show, and although I’m sure some may have felt uncomfortable at times, it is always a safe humorous environment. Most importantly, the intentions of the actors are consistently clear.
With the play being so surreal and highly subjective with its content and meaning, there are still things about it that I am trying to work out. Yes the play is hugely unpredictable, but it’s very funny too. It certainly makes you think as well as laugh. The jokes on the night landed well. More credit is due as the audience had such a wide age range, yet everyone was enjoying themselves; in terms of the humour, there was something for everyone.
The text was clever, allowing us to be laughing one moment and then thinking about complex problems regarding the human species as a whole the next.
The two central performances from Maya Hallpike and Rosa Thomas are outstanding. These characters demand so much both physically and vocally and the actors deliver. They exude confidence and skill, while joined on stage throughout by Russo who plays violin well, yet mirrors the off-beat and uneasy vibe the actors set.
This was the show’s first night at The Cockpit, the first two being cancelled due to the extreme weather (global warming is real!), although you wouldn’t have thought it. The production was composed and certainly hit the ground running.
Experiment Human is an extremely well made, bold, unique, surreal comedy that explores the things that make us human, and what makes us happy. The team holding it up are incredible and the central performances extremely admirable.
Written by: Maya Hallpike and Rosa Thomas
Produced by: Hooky Productions
Light design by: Lilli Fisher
Experiment Human has completed its London run. It will play at EdFringe throughout August. More information can be found here.