Review: Manimals (Online)

Michelle Hudson’s love life is the anchor on which this “NSFW” Zoom show and online app is tethered. Manimals is an interactive show / online game presented as a workshop launch for a new dating app. Michelle, a gaming designer, has mixed her professional and personal preoccupations here for immersive entertainment.

Sign up for your place, create a basic dating profile, keep your camera on when asked to, and you’re in. I noted most of the participants were female, perhaps more up for the promised “playfully filthy” experience, but the few men in the room stepped up to the plate when required.

The show itself takes a while to get going, with access to the Manimals app tantalisingly out of reach until nearly the halfway point. In the old tradition of point scoring, doing things on video, through microphones, or in chat push participants up the league table.

Promotional image for Manimals

Meanwhile, Michelle’s search for her perfect ‘manimal’ starts to spectacularly unravel in a rather surreal way. There are lots of sharp ideas here that definitely have legs. The app is cunningly crafted with snipey asides and increasingly odd matches; the dares are not too onerous and a lot of fun.

I’d question whether Manimals is quite as mucky as advertised, but of course that’s a personal thing. It is more a question of language and one sequence near the end that cause a raised eyebrow or two. It is not of the ‘filling your screen with accidental porn” or sending a d**k pic to your mum level.

Certainly it is playful. It also touches on what it means to be single, lonely, shielded or jaded in a relationship. The corporate aspects of a product launch are soon set aside (I would have liked to see more) but the show is ultimately what you make it.

Directed by Flo O’Mahony with creative tech from Chloe Mashiter and game design by Amy Strike, Manimals is a quirky addition to the ‘shows at home’ space.

You can catch the final UK tour performance of Manimals on 14 February at 4pm – book at https://greenwichtheatre.org.uk/events/manimals/ – “pay what you feel”. It can also be booked from 5-14 March for its Canadian tour at https://www.tift.ca/.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Manimals.

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