Review | Dog Act: post-apocalyptic rage

Joe Wiener and Ariel Leaf in DOG ACT. Photo by Scott Pakudaitis

Liz Duffy Adams‘s intermittently amusing Dog Act (Fortune’s Fool Theatre performing in The Gremlin) brings to mind the work of a number of super-duper playwrights: Bertolt Brecht (Mother Courage), Samuel Beckett (Waiting For Godot), Caryl Churchill (The Skriker, produced a year or so ago by Fortune’s Fool), Tom Stoppard (Rosenkrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead). Etcetera. Set, like many of the above plays, in a blasted “post-apocalyptic” environment, in which the Dog Act‘s characters move toward no definable destination. Dog Act occasionally rises to the rarified level of these masterworks, but too often it’s static, hard to follow, even annoying.

My favorite performance is Joe Weiner‘s, as Dog. Quiet, subdued, lovable, Weiner’s Dog is either rising to human-ness or descending to dog-ness (we don’t care which). Either way, it’s sweet, compelling work, guaranteed to stay with you.

Almost as good is Ariel Leaf, as Zetta. Her calm, semi-shaved head presence, combined with a sweet take-charge power works extremely well.

Less compelling is Delinda “Oogie” Pushetonequa as Vera Similitude (which gets my vote for best character name so far this year). Pushetonequa is under-energized to a fault and I suspect that she was searching for her lines. If I’m mistaken (I often am), my apologies. Nissa Nordland Morgan as Jo-Jo The Bald-Faced Liar attempts to inject some energy into the proceedings – often succeeding.

And then there are the two “scavengers” – Coke (Timothy Daly) and Bud (Michael Terrell Brown) who spent most of the play screaming the fuck-word and the shit-word as loud as possible. Uff da.

Recommend this play? Maybe you’ll find more substance in it than I did. Certainly the design is exquisite – especially Tracy Swenson‘s costumes – laudable in a low-budget production such as this. Your mileage may vary.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. John’s The Voice Of The Prairie has been performed 100 plus times and ditto Minnesota Moon and his adaptation of Sideways Stories From Wayside School. His The Summer Moon won a Kennedy Center Award For Drama. John has won fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and from the National Endowment For The Arts. Please visit his informational website.




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