Filmed during a limited run at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, the show is based around Rickys fascination with the animal kingdom (including that curious species, the human being) and covers subjects as diverse as classifying bats, gay animals and the Great War poets. From the moment the curtain goes up, it becomes clear that David Attenborough has nothing to worry about as Gervais accompanies a short film on animal copulation with a unique and not entirely scientific narration! Fans will wonder if any subject is taboo as the comedy drifts from his interpretation of the Bible (including what really went on in the Garden of Eden) to parts of the animal kingdom that the BBC never dared to cover.
Remarkably for someone who doesn't claim to be either an actor or a professional stand-up comic, Ricky Gervais has now triumphed in both fields. Animals Live is his one-man show at London's Bloomsbury Theatre during which the star of The Office ("That's two BAFTA Awards") presents a "lecture" on the animal kingdom in a shameless bid to inherit David Attenborough's mantle, since the old boy is getting on a bit and can't last forever. The subject is loose and broad enough to allow for plenty of digressions and amiable ramblings about sex, childhood, war and, of course, more sex.
There's something of Eddie Izzard's style in Gervais's approach, especially noticeable when he dissects the Biblical Genesis story for its absurdities; and he has also learned lessons from the father of his Office co-star Lucy Davis, Jasper Carrott. In the best segment, and one that's pure Carrott Confidential, Gervais reads out genuine animal "facts" from a website and comments gleefully upon them. Although his range is limited--he's neither an impressionist nor a mimic--Gervais gets by on a mixture of easygoing charm and bare-faced cheek, which in a short show of about an hour is all he needs to keep everyone laughing. --Mark Walker