As I walked out of Planet Earth III, I heard an audience member complain of an aching mouth from too much laughing. I had a similar experience; I think the longest I went without proper belly laughing was probably around one minute. This show was really really funny.
The premise is that Planet Earth has returned for a third series, but the budget has been cut and the animals now have to be provided through mime with the aid of office equipment. This is done by Luke Rollason, the only onstage performer, who is a bundle of energy channelled into fantastic impressions of beasts we know and love, from the snarling angler fish at the beginning of the show, desk light dangling from head and teeth bared, to the beautiful jellyfish, which he represented with delicate, gentle hand movements. The jellyfish narrative riffs on classic themes of love and loss, and when one audience member loudly expressed his comprehension, Rollason seized the opportunity to interact and played on this for the rest of the show. Indeed, there was a good amount of audience participation – I won’t spoil the surprises but rest assured it was (I imagine) hugely embarrassing for the audience members involved and hilarious for the rest of us.
This chaotic new version of Planet Earth remained true to its origins with the voice of ‘David Attenborough’ – provided by the talented Luke Howarth. His impression was so good you wondered if it had been recorded by the man himself in advance, until he started to describe things so accurately that it became obvious the narrator was in the room too. Before I realised this, I marvelled at how they had managed to rehearse a show which came across so off-the-cuff. It was very clever.
If you like laughing and/or animals, you’ll like this piece. I’d suggest you go along if you get the chance!