Review, Humane, True Name Productions, The Pleasance/Omnibus Theatre/Arcola Theatre/Theatre Deli Sheffield/Compassion In World Farming, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

In the last year we have seen a development in Theatre. Many, due to the pandemic, took to digital platforms and this has continued as the world opens up. This is a super interesting way of performance, not necessarily new in concept (The Archers for instance has been going for what seems a lifetime) but has its own challenges and positives.

Humane is a story about animal cruelty, about personal development, about feminism, race, friendship and secrets. We see the story of two very unlikely women, join together in protesting the export of live animals from their little Essex town. Their community grows but with this, while there is support and a joint agreement, there are also secrets and arguments, beginning to question nature over nurture and the society we live in.

Split into 6 parts and therefore hosted by different partners, these 30minute bursts are really great and easy to access when on the go, at a quiet moment, and great for a tube journey. They are also easy to listen to, which I found when I traveled to and from an in person show and enjoyed on my travels.

I think, without visuals, it can be quite hard to picture the story. The story itself starts at the end and we are then brought back in time to explain how we got there. This is slightly confusing when just in audio and took a few episodes in for me to piece together the narrative. The same can be said with the characters – with similar sounding voices and some doubling up on characters, it again took me some time to get my head around who was who and whose story I was listening to. Once I grasped this, it made sense and soon the different stories began to naturally interweave and compliment and contrast.

The final crescendo comes at a little surprise – without spoiling the story, part of the ending relating to race and friendships feels slightly out of place and thrown in as an after thought. I understand that perhaps the shortness of each episode and trying to get all the information into each one perhaps knocks some of these narrative plots out but it felt as if this should have been more interwoven into the story.

Humane nonetheless is a very interesting story, and perhaps goes down a route that you never expect while reading the synopsis. It just felt as if more direction was needed when deciding if this should be about animal cruelty, friendships, race and if it needed to be all of these, how they could be more interwoven together.

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