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Manimals by Michelle Hudson | Review

Meeting the man/woman/person of your dreams is difficult enough at the best of times, but in a lockdown situation, it’s pretty much impossible. However, all hope is not lost as, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, there are a preponderance of dating apps where swiping left or right may be the way to meet that special one. Into the field comes a new app, Manimals, and I was lucky enough to attend a workshop on the App the other night.

Manimals by Michelle Hudson

Before the workshop started, I received instructions on how to set up my Manimals profile, a lot less of a painful experience than for some dating apps. Then, at the appointed time, I opened Zoom and got ready to play – and who knows, meet the partner of my dreams – along with the other workshop members. When we arrived, we were given a briefing by Mimi on the workshop and the technical and access support available to us. We were also warned that the workshop wasn’t really SFW, which intrigued me even more. We then went off in pairs to breakout rooms where we discussed our animals and reason for liking them. On returning to the main room. we met Michelle Hudson who invented the app and welcomed us to the workshop. Michelle talked a bit about her back story and why she developed the app/game. Apparently, it’s all to do with saying ‘no’ and a whale called 52 Hertz. She’s tried all the apps, but nothing really worked for her, so Michelle, decided to add something extra to the dating app algorithms by only going on dates with Manimals – men posing with exotic animals in their dating profiles, and this lead to her to designing her own app, which we are getting to try in the workshop.

That’s about all I can tell you I’m afraid. The show is immersive and interactive so I can only say so much, and everyone’s experience will be very different depending on how much they and the rest of the workshop participants get involved. But I will tell you that things don’t always go the way you expect them to and that is especially true of the dating world – both real and virtual.

So, what can I say? Well, this is a nicely put together show that really piqued my curiosity before it even started, thanks to the pre-performance profile setting task. In places it really is hilarious and, no spoilers, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen a balloon being used in such a way in a theatrical show before. There’s also a fantastic intro song which, and I think I speak for almost everyone that has used one, perfectly sums up a desperate singleton’s relationship with dating apps.

Michelle is very adept at keeping things going and getting everyone involved, and as the workshop involves aspects of point scoring and dating, I was into it very quickly. But Manimals is so much more than just the dating app side, and there is an underlying story that creeps up on you and runs well through the show taking it in ways you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Director Flo O’Mahony makes fantastic use of the functionality available on a Zoom call and there were many elements that surprised me in the production. All in all, Manimals is a really entertaining production that delivers and does it with style. Personally, I thought the ending wasn’t as strong as it could have been but overall, the roughly 90 minutes runtime sped by and I was fixated on the screen, with occasional forays to my phone to play Manimals the app, throughout.

So that’s it from me, I’m now off to see if anyone has swiped right on me and try my luck at a bit of Chat Roulette.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Michelle, a successful game designer, thinks she’s well on her way to winning the dating game when she starts going on dates with Manimals – men posing with exotic animals in their dating profiles. But when you try to win a partner at all costs, what do you lose?

A playfully filthy online show, inspired by real-world dates. Live, with audience interaction and gaming, performed over Zoom.

Manimals is not suitable for people under 18. Explicit sexual content & nudity.
No (m)animals were harmed in the making of this show.

Creative and Production Team
Lead Artist – Michelle Hudson
Director – Flo O’Mahony
Creative Technician – Chloe Mashiter
Game Dramaturg – Amy Strike
Composer – Mark Aspinall
Producer – Olivia Munk
App developed by Stitch Media

UK Tour – February 10-14, 2021
Canadian Tour – March 5-14, 2021

Social Media
Twitter: @manimalsplay
Instagram: @manimalsplay


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