Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve F*cked

Tackling toxic masculinity and our need for intimacy.

Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve F*cked

Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve Fucked is a play written by Rob Hayes.

Following successful runs in Edinburgh and London, the current production – starring Linus Karp and directed by Katharine Armitage – is about to embark on a UK tour.

Ahead of the tour, I caught up with Linus Karp for a behind-the-scenes look at the production.

Shock value

“I saw the title and just thought – what the fuck is this?” explains Linus, describing what initially drew him to the play. “I expected it to be funny, but not as clever as it was. It was hilarious, but also in many ways a very human story that wasn’t written for shock value.”

“It’s such a great concept, and I’d never read anything quite like it…” continues Linus. “I remember worrying if it would have a good ending after building up so many hilarious things, but the tone changes a lot in the last scene – things that had been hinted at earlier come to the surface. I just love the script.”

Never work with animals

“Every scene features a different animal, so I’m never completely alone on stage…” explains Linus. “However, you’ll be relieved to know that there are no live animals on stage. A lot of it is down to the audiences’ imagination, which is so much better and more interesting than any kind of prop animal could ever be. I don’t think anyone seeing the play will go away thinking that it’s pro-bestiality, though it raises many interesting questions in how we treat animals.”

“This is a play that’s about how the human need for connection and intimacy is key and irreplaceable…” adds Linus. “What we heard most often from audience feedback was how they didn’t expect to be as emotionally invested in the story as they were – I think that’s because at the core, it’s a very human story about loneliness and not fitting in, which resonates with us all.”

Building momentum

“It really is a show that causes a reaction…” confirms Linus. “It often surprises people who, based on the title, expect a funny show – which it obviously is – but then they get so much more than that. There have obviously been people who didn’t like it and couldn’t get on board with the themes – but I don’t think we would have done a show like this justice had that not been the case.”

“During our London run at the King’s Head Theatre this Spring, I was really enjoying doing the show and felt like it was getting to a better place than it had ever been before…” says Linus, talking about the decision to take the production on tour. “Reviews and audience responses were incredible and I didn’t want it to end. During this time the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham got in touch and asked if we wanted to do the show there. I thought it seemed like an exciting opportunity to bring this show outside of London, so I said yes and also started contacting venues in other cities as well, to see if a tour could be a possibility. Luckily there was a lot of interest for the show and so the national tour was formed.”

“There’s a lot of admin that comes with a national tour!” exclaims Linus. “Where you normally just have to focus on one
venue, you now have to make it work with many venues simultaneously. After having self-produced the past three runs, I’m very glad to have brought on a brilliant producer for the tour, Frederick Zennor, who’s bringing new ideas and a level of organisation I’m incapable of myself.”

“Another challenge is to make sure the show finds an audience in each city…” adds Linus. “I’m not from the UK and have very few contacts outside of London in this country, so that’s a challenge. In terms of performance, it’s also about making sure the show is at home in the different theatres, which all will have different layouts and atmosphere.”

Toxic masculinity

“This play is so funny and clever – I want to share that with the audience…” says Linus. “I want them to have an enjoyable evening. On top of that, I’d love if it made people further question toxic masculinity and the treatment of animals. And I will be disappointed if you haven’t felt awkward at least a few times.”

Tour Dates

OXFORD 24-25 September – Burton Taylor Studio

BRISTOL 31 September – 1 October – Alma Tavern and Theatre

BIRMINGHAM 4-5 October – Old Joint Stock Theatre

NEWCASTLE – 8-12 October – Alphabetti Theatre

MANCHESTER – 15-16 October – King’s Arms Theatre

BRIGHTON – 25 October – Marlborough Theatre

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