Attenborough and his Animals is a high-energy comedic homage to the majestic scale of David Attenborough's documentaries. Lecoq-graduates Jess Clough-MacRae and Jonathan Tilley have toured the show at the Adelaide, Bergen, and Edinburgh fringe festivals. Now, they return to Adelaide for two weeks only after a sell-out run in 2020.
Jess and Jonathan thoughtfully recreate iconic doco scenes including (but definitely not limited to) whales, angry sharks, hissing komodo dragons, romantic sloths, and all the different kinds of cockatoos. Jonathon nails the Attenborough accent while Jess contorts her happy way through genuinely funny animal impressions. There's a lot going on here. Kids love the acting; adults love the timing. Side note: I don't know if it's his hair but Jonathon should consider recreating something from Eric Idle in a show somewhere.
In this show, madcap physical theatre leads the way. How else could one go from an impression of a blue whale to an impression of seaweed drying in the sun, in one show? Their faces become canvases that tell a story while their clownery and comedic timing hooks the audience into the action. As they segue to the next scene, you can tell everyone is happily anticipating what's next.
In true David Attenborough style, the audience is taught about the power of nature with an environmental message. Nobody minds that we don't get to see an actual trevally because the power of human nature to create and recreate is on full display. The shared connection of clownery and laughter - between artist and audience - makes you want to stop and stare at 'Attenborough' and his 'animals'.
All of Attenborough's intent is distilled into one hour by two funny fools with five props and a rousing soundtrack. Kids are welcome (parental guidance recommended) but it's not 'dumbed down' for them. It's one of the genuinely happy and funny shows for everyone this fringe season.