Monkeying around. Will Self’s surreal Great Apes comes to the Arcola Theatre

Patrick Marmion takes a swing at Will Self’s surreal modern satire, Great Apes, for a new play heading to London’s Arcola Theatre next month.

Directed by RSC and Donmar actor Oscar Pearce, Great Apes is a raucous dark comedy that mixes Self’s famously rich language with subtle, simian, movement and vocalisations to create a theatrical Planet of the Apes crossed with Gulliver’s Travels.

When Turner Prize winning artist Simon Dykes wakes up one morning after a wild night out, he finds his world has changed beyond recognition.

His girlfriend, Sarah, has turned into a chimpanzee. And, to Simon’s horror, so has the rest of humanity.

Suffering a nervous breakdown Simon is immediately taken to Charing Cross Hospital where he’s treated for being under the psychotic delusion that he’s a human being.

Here he comes under the care of charismatic and controversial chimp psychiatrist, Dr Zack Busner who helps Simon come to terms with his condition.

Where better for him to re-learn his essential chimpunity than by brachiating in the fresh air or Hampstead Heath with all the pansexual mating opportunities that affords?

Great Apes is a hilarious, uncanny and unnervingly original take on humanity’s place in the evolutionary chain. It is a modern odyssey into the abiding mystery of what it means to be a human being.

Since its publication in 1997 Will Self’s novel remains an extraordinary intellectual vision, a linguistic feast and a disturbing triumph of the imagination.

Writer and producer Patrick Marmion is a journalist, theatre critic, speaker and associate lecturer at the University of Kent.

His previous plays include The Divided Laing (Arcola Theatre), Terms & Conditions (White Bear), Pieta – After Chekhov (Finborough & Print Room), Osterley (Urban Scrawl), The Institute (Etcetera).

Making his directorial debut is award-winning actor Oscar Pearce. A regular with the RSC his credits include Wolf Hall, Greg Doran’s celebrated A Midsummer Nights Dream and the renowned Spanish Golden Age Season.

He has appeared in the West End a number of times, including the Donmar Production of The Real Thing and I.D. at the Almeida.

His portrayal of Chris, in All My Sons at the Bolton Octagon, won him the MEN best supporting actor.

Great Apes runs at the Arcola Theatre from March 14-April 21.

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