Small Creatures Such As We is about how human connection always and at the same time builds us up into new people with its support, while also opening us to vulnerability and pain. It also seems to say that how we deal with this reality is what defines us. The problem here, is not in principals, but in their execution.
The premise of this show seems to be that we are all small, and live through traumas in our lives that shape us. This perspective says that we are, all of us, primarily victims of things largely outside our control. This is one way of looking at the world, and while I’m not about to argue about it, I will say that it is not the only way. It is, however, the way that these two characters view themselves, and ask us to look at them. Everything they do is as a response to trauma, or as an attempt to conquer it.
The characters in this show, Kit and Joanna, occupy two distinct time-worlds: their present as twenty-somethings, and their early adolescence when they first met and became friends and lovers. So far, so good, but in neither world does the audience witness any slow growth or development of the individuals; all the changes are presented post facto in the second time-world. Furthermore, these characters, who embody some rather classic stereotypes of innocent Christian girl, and the sexually experienced big-city bad-boy, never show themselves transcending these types to establish their connection. We never learn why Joanna decides to abandon her religious convictions to have sex with Kit, or see any sign of what makes the rather repugnant character of Kit such a ladies man in the first place.
The dialogue we do hear moves between choppy and unbelievable, and isn’t helped by the actors’ delivery of it. The interactions of these characters also seem to lack depth; there are no layers in what each interaction means to them, each line feels placed to accomplish the goal of that scene, rather than the goals of the characters.
This show has some heart in the centre that comes from its understanding that humans hurt, and it is trying to say something about our reality as human beings, and for that I admire it. Unfortunately, to say nothing of the execution of its vision, its conception and understanding of what it is to be hurt is not at all nuanced; part of the sadness and hurt comes from a lost potential for joy that bubbles beneath the surface.