Trevor is a chimpanzee who was once a popular TV star but has now been relegated to life as a pet to his coddling human owner.
Nick Jones’ brilliantly conceived play was inspired by the true story of a woman in America who was mauled by her pet chimp. Clearly, the incident drove Jones to delve into the motivations and preceding events that led to such a horrible outcome. In his play, Trevor, the title character is a bored and restless chimpanzee, disillusioned with his life, dressed in overalls and t-shirt, speaking English and looking like a human, though walking and acting like a chimp. Consummately played by Jamie Oxenbould, Trevor is tempestuous and sulky, yet also endearing. The play uses the very clever device of having all the characters speak in English so that the audience understands everyone, yet indicating that Trevor and the humans do not understand each other’s language. That communication barrier evokes a lot of subtext and contributes to very strong tension and pathos in the plot.
Di Adams plays Sandra, Trevor’s owner, a late middle-aged woman, recently widowed, whose whole world revolves around Trevor. Her obvious devotion, frequently challenged by bridled exasperation, is heart-wrenching to watch. David Lynch weaves deftly close to caricature as the local sheriff; Ainslie McGlynn is deliberately and effectively unlikeable as the nervous neighbour; Jemwel Danao is the sweet if slightly pitiful Animal Control officer; Garth Holcombe is deliciously camp and cheeky as the has-been chimp, Oliver, replete in white jacquard tuxedo. Performing some outrageous scene-chewing as Morgan Fairchild (80s soap diva) is Eloise Snape.
This is a riveting play with an emotional pendulum that swings from hilarity to pathos to horror to introspection. You must see it.
Until Jul 6. Kings Cross Theatre, 244 William St, Kings Cross. $20-$42+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.kingsxtheatre.com
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich