Review: Zoo, VAULT Festival

A play about the perils of going home with someone called Ian… Zoo is also a pretty darn fantastic production at the VAULT Festival

“We are in for quite a night”

Well who would have thought it? A show that actually manages to make brilliant use of the Cavern, one of the most awkward of the VAULT Festival’s spaces. Co-directors Hamish MacDougall and Lily Bevan have clearly thought about how to maximise the potential this restaging of Zoo (previously seen in Edinburgh and at Theatre503), and make full and creative use of its echoing length – a real achievement.

It helps that Bevan’s play is one which lends itself to a letterbox-ish format. She plays Bonnie, a zoo keeper at Cherokee Valley Zoo and Conservation Centre in Miami and as a hurricane winds its way towards Florida, we also meet Lorna Beckett’s Carol, a North Yorkshire bat enthusiast and see how a friendship grows between the two women, sustaining them through some pretty harsh times, including meeting a man called Ian…

Their stories unfold as monologues, with brief flashbacks to moments together which have an electrifying effect both on their lives and on the play. The pair find real communion in shared experience despite their extremely different outlooks and there’s something tenderly but powerfully redemptive here too. And Mike Winship’s sensational sound design, aided by Tom Clutterbuck’s lighting work, immerses us with real transportative skill – a minor key triumph. 

Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Idil Sukan
Zoo is booking at the VAULT Festival until 1st March

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