“A bit of humanity and a hell of a lot of glitter and giggles.” (Lockie Chapman’s take on “Insane Animals”).
Viewing the plight of 21st century humanity from afar, a couple of glam and compassionate aliens decide to pay us a visit and help us save ourselves (and our planet). But how to do this? Well, how about revisiting the oldest human story ever set down in writing – “The Epic of Gilgamesh”? Not caring much for how the original ends (at the close of act one), why not drag the rugged hero forward 40 centuries and give him another go? Like you do.
Welcome to “Insane Animals”, the latest project of Bourgeois & Maurice (the alter egos of Liv Morris and George Heyworth).
The atmosphere in the rehearsal room is one of cheery camaraderie, as attested by the full throated laughs when Heyworth messes up first his lines, then his dance steps. No prima donnas, here. Mind you, given that act two opens with the aliens bringing Gilgamesh up-to-date with 4,000 years of war, politics, religion, culture in a list song to end all list songs (Gilbert and Sullivan eat your hearts out!) delivered at a pace that would surely defeat a Modern Major General, I think we can allow poor George the occasional rehearsal stumble. Opening night is still a week or so away, and when it comes off (as it surely will) this number will be a cracking second act opener.
Director, Philip McMahon, a long-time admirer of Bourgeois & Maurice, leapt at the chance to help them develop their first ensemble piece. Something else that appealed to him was that this is “satire with heart”. The story, he says, has layers such that he thinks audiences will be in for an emotional gut-punch, as well as plenty of laughter and memorable tunes.
That emotional layering is evident in Gilgamesh’s act two song of lament, musing on loss and ageing: “I don’t want to be that elderly bore, telling kids that before them the world was better…” The role of the tyrant king who became, “one third mortal, two thirds god” is taken by Lachlan “Lockie” Chapman (formerly of mega-selling vocal harmony group, The Overtones).
“With a voice like this, I have to play a villain,” says Chapman with a twinkle in his eye. He has a fine voice, and if his Gilgamesh is to be a villain (of sorts) he won’t lack charm. Chapman also speaks of the poignancy of “Insane Animals” and how Gilgamesh, having first sought immortality, comes to value his humanity. Never forgetting, of course, the music: “Those ear-worms are just everywhere in this show – beautiful songs.”
“I’d love them to be humming some tunes!” is how Liv Morris starts off her list of hopes for the audience’s response.
“We want people to be going out feeling on a high,” says creative partner, George Heyworth. “We probe the darker side of humanity but… we end up celebrating humans as the ‘insane animal’.”
Heyworth makes no grandiose claims that the show offers solutions to the problems of the world: “We’re hoping that by giving people a load of glamour and sequins and really catchy tunes they’ll go away and do the hard work themselves,” he jokes.
In Morris’s eyes,“the whole show is about humanity. How amazing humans are.”
Or, as Lockie Chapman describes it: “a pantomimic-musical-rock-gig-pop-gig-drag-show”.
Lord Gilgamesh meets the aliens, in the cause of saving humanity from itself. It’ll be epic.
Bourgeois and Maurice’s Insane Animals is at Home, Manchester from 28 February to 14 March 2020. Recommended age 16 +