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Soft Animals by Holly Robinson (Play Review) Soft Animals by Holly Robinson (Play Review)
Soft Animals by Holly Robinson (Play Review)

Holly Robinson’s debut play, Soft Animals, is a two header with Bianca Stephens playing Frankie Ellie Piercy as Sarah.

As the story unfolds we learn of a chance meeting under the most life changing event for initially one of the characters, Sarah, which results in her facing a barrage of verbal abuse on the streets, physical attack and death threats for a crime or was it a mistake?

This seemingly unforgiveable act was so impactful it caused the breakup of her marriage and the loss of her home to the ‘Forgotten Baby Syndrome’: an leading to an untimely and unexpected tragic experience – the death of her baby in a hot car on a sunny afternoon.

Frankie’s story too unfolds like the layers of an onion, telling of abandonment, self-hatred to the point of allowing horrendous sexual abuse at the hands of complete strangers. All this coming to light during one of the many deep insightful yet matter of fact exchanges between the two women.

Things unravel in an absolutely captivating manner, yet is so intricately woven together and with an on-going, clear and seamless exchange by both characters makes this play undoubtedly easy, yet emotive watch.

Both gave excellent performances in their own however Bianca portrayal of Frankie , that seamlessly alternated from anguish, hurt wit a longing to free from her pain to brash insensitivity tipped the acting accolades slightly in her favour.

With more than the occasional sprinkle of humour weaved into this play it offers an interesting balance between the flurry of deep seated emotions and the need to escape from the pain. Uniquely done, emerging in a subconscious way.

Transitions were effectively executed with the use of lighting and sound which created the momentum and mood setting the scene and place that was recognisable at every stage.

Good use was made of the staging and prompts with nothing needing to be taken away or brought on to the floor.

So we learn that Sarah’s loss was accidental and Frankie’s deliberate. A sure dichotomy that both were faced with head on. How did they even begin to process each other’s emerging experiences on top of their own?

This emotive and compelling performance had me gripped from start to end, all one hour and fifteen minutes worth!

Soft Animals 6 February – Saturday 2 March 2019, Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London, W1D 3NE • (020) 7478 0100

Review by Doreen Blake on behalf of Ebony Online (13 February 2019)

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