Going Ape

Andrew Corbet Burcher
Dance Attic Studios and Rebecca Andrews
Union Theatre

Siôn Lloyd as Adam and Melanie Le Barrie as Eve
Gabriel Vick as Cain and Henry Collie as Seth
Melanie Le Barrie as Eve and Laura Tyler as Australopithecus Afarensis (Lucy)
Anabel Kutay as Genevieve, Henry Collie as Seth, Siôn Lloyd as Adam, Melanie Le Barrie as Eve, Gabriel Vick as Cain and Laura Tyler as Lucy

In Going Ape, Andrew Corbet Burcher brings divine creation and evolutionism together. This isn’t a contest between them (nothing like the Wilberforce-Huxley debate or any subsequent argument) but a light-hearted comedy.

It is set 300 years after Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden. Though Adam still wears a fig leaf as well as more comfortable clothing, he doesn’t remember those early years clearly. They’ve had time to learn some skills: he’s particularly proud of having mastered milking. Eve, who seems to have a penchant for leopard skin outfits, is still serving up a menu with every dish based on apple, a diet that Adam finds boring.

The seeds of humanity’s later different forms seem already evident: Adam (Siôn Lloyd) seems Welsh and Eve (Melanie La Barrie) Caribbean and, when their son Cain (Gabriel Vick) pays a visit—he’s the one who was packed off to roam the world as God’s punishment for killing his brother—he turns up with a posh RP accent. He has a surprise for them too. He has brought along his girlfriend Lucy (Laura Tyrer), more formally known as Australopithecus afarensis, whom he met in Africa. She is a biped who walks rather strangely, is covered in hair and communicates through body language and simple sounds but soon shows remarkable changes for she represents evolution.

It is a show that sets out to be funny. Some will find Going Ape clever and others just silly, but the cast endow it with energy so that there are times when it takes off, as when drum-thumping son Seth (Henry Collie), who seems to have invented music, gets them all dancing. He brings along Genevieve (Anabel Kutay, also the choreographer), a lively lady who sounds transatlantic, whom he has met in the jungle. When Lucy does a de Mille and casts them all in a recreation of creation with God as its audience and Genevieve shines at the auditions, it is the voice from the heavens that suggests they should call the show Genesis!

Designer Poppy Corbet Burcher provides a setting of fake rocks and foliage with a gauze to add atmosphere and Cieranne Kennedy-Bell provides colourful costumes.

Director Evan Ensign seems to have picked up on the way Going Ape is sending itself up and it works best when he lets the cast share their fun with the audience.

It doesn’t quite pull it off, but it got a warm response and Dance Attic deserves that support for its persistence in getting it on at last after two COVID-forced postponements.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton