Sometimes a great actor will steal a scene, or an act, some exceptional souls will steal the whole shebang. In The Little Dog Laughed Sarah Aubrey (as wickedly ruthless agent/power lesbian Diane) didn’t so much steal the show as mug it, tie it up, put duct tape over its mouth in a well-executed kidnapping. And if the audience were victims of this hostage grab, we were happily Stockholm-ed by her.
The play reveals Mitchell, a television actor on the brink of making it big, being propelled into the limelight by his ambitious agent. Their plan to launch his film career hits a glitch when Mitch falls for Alex, a rent boy he hires. Alex is vacillating between his job, Mitch and his (girl)friend Ellen. The result is a coming out story with a twist, will the lure of super stardom be too much for Mitchell to risk his relationship with Alex? Though the premise of the play feels slightly dated, the in-your-face satire is brilliant.
In Sarah Aubrey’s hands Diane’s monologues are a thing of beauty (and hilarity). Douglas Carter Beane has made these shallow characters and their lives absorbing, the banter between them is fast-paced and cutting. Diane describes the monks of the Namghala monastery and their creation of sand mandalas in painstaking detail, describing the ritual as ‘an exercise in tedious futility’ yet her further comparison of the sand mandalas to professionals ordering their Cobb salads is anything but tedious. It is a perfect parody of entertainment executives at work (and lunch) feverishly hatching schemes each with their own agenda.
Brett Rogers as the angst-ridden, wise-cracking actor Mitchell seems a little self-conscious at first, he gradually relaxes into the role. Charles Upton as Alex was also uneasy initially but shrugged it off to give a terrific performance. Madeline Beukers as Ellen shows a perfect blend of youthful arrogance and little girl vulnerability. Director Alice Livingstone has kicked off the year with a bang, not a whimper with this very entertaining production, this is one not to miss.
On at the New Theatre and presented in association with the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, The Little Dog Laughed is on until 4 March, for more information and tickets see: http://newtheatre.org.au/season-2017/the-little-dog-laughed/
Featuring: Sarah Aubrey, Brett Rogers, Charles Lipton and Madeline Beukers.
Creative Team: Alice Livingstone (director), Tom Bannerman (set design), Louise Mason (lighting design), Famke Visser (costume designer), Michael Huxley (sound design) and Emma Louise (associate director/voice & dialect coach).
Production Team: Jo Jewitt (production & stage manager, SX operator), Ole Borch (LX Operator), Tom Bannerman, David Marshall-Martin, Rodger Wishart, Darren Eyears, Allan Walpole and Paul Schipp (set construction, bump in).
Above image by Bob Seary