Dog – The Basement Theatre

What is worse than a skeleton in the closet? A dead dog in the fridge purhaps?

Dog highlights the loneliness and isolation of the elderly What seems an unlikely topic for comedy, is far from a depressing play. Dog is a comic romp through the death and funeral of a war veteran’s dog with clever vernacular that feels both recognisable and original.

Neville, played by Mick Innes, has such an attachment to his dog that he wants to stage a funeral for the deceased canine equal to those bestowed upon his fallen war comrades. The army won’t entertain a 21-gun salute so Neville is forced to compromise;playing the decaying corpse its favourite song 21 times before he’s puts to his final resting place

Neville procrastinates over the final parting from his dead dog. much to the horror of his attractive young flatmate Olivia, played by Shavaughn Ruakere. The plot thickens with when his neighbor Warwick, becomes smitten with the beautiful Olivia. Problems and relationship tensions, grow as the poor pooch decays.

Gareth Williams, the “bloody neighbour” plays the part of a social outcast in love beautifully, and steals the limelight often. For me, his performance really shone through and was the heart of the play going from villain to hero. The audience initially found him cringe worthy, but warmed to him as he emerged to be a misunderstood champion who only needed a chance to make good.

Ruakere’s monotone delivery maybe a little too subtle for some, although I still enjoyed watching her performance of the slightly sombre withdrawn Olivia.

Innes was excellent as the ex-serviceman and managed to convey the single mindedness that can only come with age, mixed with the total intolerance only those with nothing left to lose can afford to display.

I love the intimacy of the basement theatre and watching the world premier of Dog warmed me literally and figuratively. The retro furniture set evokes comforting memories, and the audience left the theatre emotionally warm on an otherwise cold and wet evening. Ben Hutchinson has created a surreal, yet charming and entertaining play.

Dog is playing at The Basement Theatre until 30 August.

Jann-Marie Ross