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Human Animals

Published 24 May 2016

What’s it all about?

A frighteningly all-too-feasible apocalypse scenario: nature bites back and, by sheer weight of numbers, forcefully reclaims its land. Diseased kamikaze pigeons crash through windows, urban foxes encroach on the homes of residents, and mysterious sickness is rife – and that’s before the widespread panic, protest, curfews, lockdowns and drastic government counter-action.

We witness the impact of events on a small community through six eclectic citizens whose intertwining lives and individual responses to the crisis contrast and, in doing so, frequently clash. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds leant a slower-acting but equally sinister lens through which to observe the horrifying deterioration of society.

Who’s in it?

Bend It Like Beckham’s Olivier Award-nominated Natalie Dew is straight off the pitch and straight onto the protest line at the Royal Court, superbly playing the fiery, idealistic objector Alex with radiant tenacity but heart-breaking vulnerability.

Dew is joined by a host of other Court veterans, who potently hold up a formidable, often terrifying – and sometimes literal, via an ingenious live stream of the audience – mirror to our own animalistic instincts in times of crisis.

What should I look out for?

It’s normally sublime in its subtlety, but sound designer Mark Melville’s bass-heavy soundtrack underscores the collapse of society with truly enthralling – and unsettling – intensity.

Imaginative and bold visual design to perfectly capture humanity’s subservience to nature. Those of a nervous disposition, watch out for the paint cannons, flamethrowers, ominously prevalent back window, and more explosive events than an episode of The Apprentice.

In a nutshell?

Petrifying, provocative and visceral, when the Human Animals come in two by two there’ll be plenty of hurrahs. 

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Will I like it?

Furiously fast-paced but broad in scope, Human Animals is a show of exceptional thematic richness featuring a surprising quantity of black humour to boot. For sheer gripping entertainment, it’s an hour-long experience to savour. But be warned: you won’t welcome the sight of London’s avian population for a while.

Human Animals plays at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs until 18 June. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website


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