Dog Show at the New Diorama Theatre
The New Diorama Theatre supports emerging companies possessing a distinctive style and the ability to surprise the audience with fresh approaches to storytelling. Kandinsky meets the criteria fully by presenting a playful piece with a very strong experimental flavour. Dog Show is the result of inventive playwriting combined with devised elements developed during rehearsals. Four actors change roles continually as they set to represent a whole community: dog-owners, passers-by and, amusingly, the dogs themselves. Musician and composer Zac Gvirtzman single-handedly provides the soundtrack to the performance as he dexterously switches instruments to match and enrich the changing moods.
A mysterious figure leaves poisonous food in a park frequented by dog-owners with the deliberate intent of murdering their pets. When the first dog dies, the owner is outraged at the police’s nonchalant attitude, and he takes it upon himself to warn other park visitors of the potential danger. As the victims increase, the tragedy gives birth to an interesting phenomenon: the devastated owners begin to interact with one another and display their vulnerabilities to total strangers. After the initial confrontations, misunderstandings, and misjudgments of the other, a genuine sense of community gradually begins to form.
The audience is always given the dogs’ perspective, too. A short walk through the city is represented as an overload of stimuli, with loud traffic noises, the chattering of people and the general humdrum of the streets acting as one single entity overbearing the excited dog. The smells of cigarettes, discarded foods, excrements, and so much more, overwhelm the sensitive nostrils of the dog. The exhaustive list of olfactory clues picked up by a pet indirectly gives a concentrated account of a human’s daily activities, showing how intimately dogs know people.
The simple, openly expressed desires of the pets highlight the inconsistency of human behaviour, and expose people as laughably fickle in contrast. While it’s the representation of the dogs that creates the humour in the play, it is the humans that come off as ridiculous in their awkward and unnecessarily complex interactions. Bold yet light-hearted, Dog Show keeps its dark themes wrapped under a veil of comedy. The dog impersonations may sound like a risky choice, but it proves to be one of the highlights of the play. Another strength is the fluidity with which scenes, characters and the set itself change and take up new forms and directions without interrupting the flow of the story. Overall, it is a delightful performance that stands out for the originality of its concept and execution.
Dog Show is on at the New Diorama Theatre from 29th September until 17th October 2015, for further information or to book visit here.