Deadpan discussion of the effects of psychoactives on dolphins, alien communication and sexual acts carried out by a female researcher on her male dolphin, when you have a play that demands a whole new theatrical genre (‘scientific satire’) then you know something’s seriously up. Possibly the weirdest and most wonderful thing about Tank, however, is that much of what it is based on is true. In the 1960s (obvi), while Nasa was looking for intelligent life beyond our galaxy, a US research programme led a preemptive exercise attempting to teach other intelligent life forms – dolphins – to speak English. Already a great story line, the plot takes an even more fantastical and symbolically laden turn as the male dolphin’s unmanageable aggression gets ‘managed’ by a female researcher in a way that might violate many a sensibility, including either of those involved. Blurring fact and (admittedly bizarre) fiction, both mixed media and messages play a large part in this production, with video, sound, movement and even a dolphin’s unique perspective, giving the tale multiple viewpoints to highlight the themes of power, manipulation and reportage. Could this even be a post-modern love story? Award winning, politically engaged, ethically dubious, manipulative and psychedelically surreal, this truly is a story for our times.
Tue 23 May – Thu 25 May, Birmingham REP Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EP, 0121 236 4455. 6pm. From £10 www.birmingham-rep.co.uk
Published on: Mon 1 May 2017