Nothing about Tarzanne feels wild. Fourteen-year-old Anne is found in the jungle, having been raised by chimpanzees. Bullied on her return home, she’s kept in a cage and treated like an animal. Interplay Theatre attempt to build a vibrant, tragic world around the young girl, but high emotions fall into melodrama, and the lo-fi charm becomes lazily cluttered.
Rid of her wild hair and dressed in girls' clothing, Anne retains the behavioural traits of a chimp, and gardener Jenkins, the only one to show her any compassion, takes it upon himself to teach her how to be a lady. She finds comfort in the greenhouse: it reminds her of home. As she hangs from his neck, their relationship is tender.
The ensemble are talented musicians, skilled at creating tone with music. But the acting isn’t to the same standard, giving surface level impressions of characters, with character arcs chucked in to keep up with the rushed-through plot. It’s doesn’t quite believe in the rules of its world enough to have an emotional impact on its audience.
It is difficult to look at a child in a cage and not think of recent images in the news, but aside from the shocking early image of Anne trapped behind metal bars, the rest of Interplay’s production feels incredibly depoliticised. Tarzanne has the potential to tell a music-infused tale of belonging and abandonment, but settles for less with the quality of its script and performance.