Review:ANIMALS, Scottish Storytelling Centre



Hannah  Venet and Greg Sinclair. Photo: Jassy Earl

Welcome to the Really Wildly Inventive Show! There’s imperious horses, domestic dogs, elegant fish, sheep who fancy Irn Bru instead of milk, and… wait. How to dispose of a dead goldfish? ‘Dead lambs with no eyeballs’? And this is for kids aged six plus?!

Of course it is. Created by Greg Sinclair, and devised with fellow performer Hannah Venet, Animals is a perfectly pitched meditation on mortality, through the prism of children’s daily interactions with pets and working on farms. They are a resilient bunch after all, kids. It’s more often than not the parents who break their hearts over losing a dog, whereas a little one will simply say, ‘When do we get another one?!’

Venet and Sinclair, who samples animal sounds and plays twinkling pop on keyboard, examine such roles animals play in shaping family life, and embody a huge array of animals, in a kind of adventure playground set gorgeously designed by Katy Wilson, with swing, tyre and stepping stones. They’re a fun double act, wonderful dancers and physical theatre performers, who take on characteristics with ease.  I’m particularly partial to their camper-than-camp dog show featuring Willard and Claudia, two strutting poodles who are so fabulous they just have to Vogue.To paraphrase Drag Race, ‘Sashay… they stay!’ (Especially when there is an audience).

JassyEarl ANIMALS 2.jpg

Photo: Jassy Earl

Poignant, genuinely funny and buzzing with invention, this is a family show which is never twee nor patronising. Several children clutching animals or discussing loved pets, appear on screen beside them, in Geraldine Heaney’s films. Kids are invited onstage to draw the animals. There’s BSL interpreted names for animals too.

The duo even mime children’s stories with their real voices- always a delightful device. Above all, though, it’s the anthropomorphic scenes which are most enjoyable. The blank-eyed stare of sheep chewing, insouciant cool cats in shades, Venet’s funky chicken.. it’s all… gravy… errr…mint sauce? You may think about becoming permanently vegetarian after this lovely show. Truly heart-warming and accessible, with enough layers for all to enjoy.

(Lorna Irvine)

A co-production with Perth Theatre

Touring across Scotland until 3rd June. For more information, head to

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