LONDON ZOO
Southwark Playhouse
7 – 30 March 2024

“Set during the dawn of a new millennium, London Zoo explores the subtle and not so subtle prejudices of the modern workplace at Southwark Playhouse this spring! This satirical fast-paced production follows senior executive, Arabella‚Äôs journey in a typical London newspaper office, uncovering unspoken attitudes, ingrained attitudes, powerful secrets and clever manipulations, With the print crisis looming and revenues falling, the characters struggle to adapt to the new world as digital media begins to seep through the cracks.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 2 Stars

Tackling thorny issues of gender bias and racial prejudice head-on is always going to be a brave venture. Performed unflinchingly here without pulling punches, this play takes a while to get going and then makes you double-check yourself – “did he just say that”?

While often on the edge of crossing a line, the realism is lost due to its lack of subtlety. A slightly more believable, more nuanced and self-aware text showing the sophistication of the upper levels of a male-dominated Board room might land more of a punch. The neanderthals shown here are usually better equipped to disguise their thoughts.

The Set is rather strange. A coporate newpaper organisation with crumbling white-washed walls that have crumbling missing plasterwork higher up exposing the brickwork. Across this wall is 3 LED strips which chase and colour change during the scene changes. That could possible work if they were purely decorative however they regularly stay illuminated into the following scene becoming quite an obtrusive component. With only 1 office chair on wheels supplemented by 2 additional metal folding chairs. The scene setting for the “men’s private club” becomes a blue draped shelf unit rolled in front of the newspaper decal wall-sign which isn’t quite tall enough to cover the wall-sign and is out of place in the club anyway, serving no purpose except to almost cover the sign.

The lighting serves a warm and cool wash.

Everything feels just “too fringe”.