Artist(s): The Human Zoo
Devised by: The Company
Venue: Pandora’s Playground
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
There’s a theme developing in Pandora’s Playground at Latitude this year. Full Stop looks at the challenges of being a commuter and, across the field, similar themes are being explored in The Human Zoo’s Monotone Man.
It’s a monotone world that these characters inhabit. All the performers are painted grey and desperate for some human interaction. Pre-show they mingle among us and implore us to make them smile or make them laugh. If they actually want interaction, though, is open to debate; so entrenched are they in the monotone and mundane that any change may be too much of a shock.
This is a group working as a cohesive whole but also isolated as individuals. The battle of the daily commute, the daily grind for work and the pressure to conform all shaping their lives.
There’s no words, a childish babble that reminds of an Eastern European cartoon is the only ‘spoken’ commentary. Instead we’re guided through music, comedy, movement and dance.
As inany conformist society, however, anarchy slowly overwhelms, manifested here in a flourishing of colour that slowly invades the grey world. Our protagonists may initially resist its incursion but the joy and spontaneity the colour breathes into the world is infectious.
It’s infectious fun for the audience as well; by the end, appropriately for this festival environment, they have created their own mosh pit of dancing audience members.
It’s a clever concept and one that suits the festival atmosphere well. The setting though also proves to be a slight Achilles Heel. With an audience seated on a wide arc, much of the action takes place at a distance, and despite audience interaction at start and finish much of the time we’re left as passive viewers, which seems an opportunity lost.