‘Wild Things’ is the latest venture from The House of Improv. In this improvised comedy, the team address human interactions with an endangered animal which is conjured out of thin air by the audience. In the Tuesday performance, this animal was the creaky-tailed hippopotamus.
Set in Creaky-Tailed Hippopotamus Town, the play followed the stories of a number of townspeople and their relationships with the town’s unique animal population, that of the creaky-tailed hippopotami, whose tail creaks with a pleasing melodic tinkle (provided by HoI’s pianist). It became evident that the CTH was celebrated at school level, most notably by Jenny the school cheerleader, but once the town people reach maturity, they hunted the hippopotami for their creaky tails which can be made into musical instruments, jangly pom-poms, and the like. A CTH without its tail loses its sense of direction, and dies.
The booming trade for creaky-tail containing wares and the seemingly addictive ‘rush’ that CTH hunting generated gradually took its toll on the CTH population. The older generation, who included Jamie (Jenny the cheerleader’s mother) made impassioned excuses for the sport claiming it is ‘character building’, an ‘ancient pass-time’ and that there had ‘always been loads of them’. The younger generation, Jenny and her new friend Danny, took stand against the hunting and staged a protest, exchanging their CTH pom-poms for placards, and chanting: ‘get a gripp-o, save the hippo’.
The story ended on a happy note; Barthelomus organised the hippos into an orchestra. He encouraged a hippo hunter, Clair, to give conducting them a go to allow her to ‘get to know them better, [to] treat the animals as friends.’ Barthelomus also implored Jamie to see the error of her ways, saying ‘instead of making instruments out of animals, [let] the animals be the instruments.’
The play was a careful blend of funny and frank: ‘when people over hunt things… bad stuff happens’. The underlying messages on the dangers of hunting, the responsibility humans have over animal populations, and the need to stop practices which may fall into the ‘but we’ve always done it’ category, were evident throughout. The creaky-tailed hippos were only present on-stage through mime, but somehow, they managed to take on a life of their own, endearing the audience to their tinkles, and conjuring up in us an urge to look after them. ‘Wild Things’ is a wonderful watch (though of course if you go and see it you’ll get a whole new animal) and acts as a hilarious yet poignant reminder that our world is full of animals, creaky-tailed or not, which require our protection.
Wild Things is on for three more nights at the Burton Taylor (13th-15th Feb 2020)
Please visit their Facebook event for further information and tickets: https://www.facebook.com/events/309197226664758/
The cast of Wild Things: Sofia Castelló, Matthew Kemp, Kat Cooper, Will Jefferson, Olivia Route, Vidy Reddy, Jake Shapter, Emma New