Review: Dangerous Giant Animals by Christina Murdock

The challenges of being your sibling's caregiver in a broken home

★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
32076 large
Dangerous Giant Animals by Christina Murdock
Published 12 Aug 2018

Claire’s little sister has regular seizures and throws violent tantrums. The medical basis for her disability isn’t fully explored in Dangerous Giant Animals, which is told from Claire's perspective, growing up as the middle sister and caregiver. There are moments when she resents it but much more common in this everyday tragedy are expressions of sisterly love and devotion. 

The melancholic atmosphere that hangs heavily in this production subtly shifts in accordance with the sisters’ moods. Daily routines are stressful, often punctuated with moments of shocking violence and menace. Despite Claire narrating, the story centres around other people in her life. Writer and performer Christina Murdock counters every positive experience—from getting into boarding school to her final opera recital—with the sense of duty that she feels towards her family. There is never an opportunity for Murdock to focus on herself.

Dangerous Giant Animals is full of intricate details that highlight the emotional complexities of being a caregiver. Every moment is a battle of restraint and control, delivered by Murdock with mounting frustration. But the ending is unclear, as confusing as it is intriguing and straying dangerously close to losing the audience’s attention.

Murdock’s show is a complex web of passion and anger born of caring too much. And while the epilogue is out of place with the rest of the story, Murdock clearly reveals the everyday difficulties of being a caregiver for someone you love.