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Gary Stevens


The beady eyes of hundreds of soft toys confront the audience. The performers have different attitudes to the toys under their feet. Some tread over them while others step through them with care.

The performers never make eye contact. They fail to recognise faces and expressions. They prefer to talk to or through the soft toys. One man dressed inexplicably in a smoking jacket, has behavioural traits that cast doubt on his humanity. He is extraordinarily obedient and is so devastated by anyone leaving the stage and so excited at their return that he knocks them down in an embrace and effusive greeting. It is never confirmed but he has characteristics reminiscent of a dog. Another performer is hardly seen; she hides behind furniture and animates the toys like a puppeteer. When she finally emerges, the sight of her is abhorrent to the others. The performers are thinking objects rather than subjects; they are alien. The show makes an issue of anthropomorphic projection, consciousness and empathy.

National Review of Live Art, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow; Green Rooms, Manchester; Powerhouse, Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham; Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff; Leadmill, Sheffield; Ashcroft Centre, Fareham & Gosport

British Art Show 1990, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow; Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds; Purcell Room, Hayward Gallery, London

Performed by Andrew Davenport, Kate France, Neale Goodrum, Gary Stevens and Penny Skerrett
Lighting: Beth Hardisty

“Gary Stevens… is an unappropriated alien.”

“The… actors represent a family locked in the domestic traumas of separation, reunion, small talk and breakfast. The search for one particular rabbit is savagely conducted, the whole menagerie is thrown to the back of the acting area. Thence the animals re-surface as puppets, arm extensions and nerve ends…”

“as interesting as it is delicate, It extends the language of domestic sit-com into the realm of the literally unspeakable, the beast beneath the stairs.”

Financial Times

“Nowhere else in town will you find 75 minutes of metaphysical speculation which is also so profoundly entertaining: the dancing potato had me doubled up.”

City Limits

“The imagistic vigour of his mind-stretching charades make entirely appropriate the tag ‘ Beckettian’. It is impossible to imagine Stevens’ work being staged by anyone other than himself and his company… one scene dissolves into another with astonishing rapidity. Animal is bold, brave and challenging…”

The Listener