Theatre Review: Mutts: The Dog’s Tale

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Brian Godfrey as Titan; Joanna Webb as Jude

Brian Godfrey as Titan; Joanna Webb as Jude

Presented by Moore Books SA/Holden Street Theatres
Reviewed 24 June 2015

Theatre veteran, Tony Moore, has given us another very worthy production in Mutts. Nine dogs, are impounded, and share their stories and hopes. Will they be rescued, or will they be taken on “the long walk”, from which they never return?

Johnny Grim’s script is a little odd: although well written, and certainly engaging, it seems to, literally, be about dogs. Call me crazy, but I was expecting this to be more of a fable, with some deeper, human connection. But it’s not. This really is “101 Dalmatians” with a college education. A highly enjoyable piece, but very thin on any meaning, other than “be nice to dogs”.

Leaving aside the script, this show is worth seeing for the performances alone. Moore has taken the sensible road of not turning the actors into dog-impersonators, but rather, allowed them, through clever costuming and physical work, to embody their dog, as a human.  It reminded me of the way adults-playing-children was handled in  Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills. Outstanding were Brian Godfrey as Titan, Maxine Grubel as Socks, Maxine Harding as Measles and Joanna Webb as Jude. In fact, Webb’s gut-wrenching performance got close to the deeper human meaning this play lacks.

Jabez Retallick, a newer actor on the Adelaide scene, played the quiet, but beautiful role of Red: his physicality was excellent, and he managed to give presence to a quiet character. Damien White was also solid as Spock. Kudos to Shannon Norfolk for a very effective and atmospheric design, and to Nick Moore for seamless sound and lighting.

The other members of the cast: Kristin Telfer as Peppa, Shannon Gray as Molly and Kyla Booth as Meg, were all very good, but were hampered by the other issue with this play, which is its imbalance. These three characters were all very underwritten.  It is interesting when you realise how the male characters get most of the lines and the “bitches” get very little. Grim should really rewrite before there are any more productions of this script. It sticks out like dogs…well…you know.

This is fantastic show for older children or teens, or anyone who loves dogs. It is an enormously enjoyable piece of theatre, worth seeing for the performances alone.

And thank goodness for companies like Moore Books SA and Holden Street Theatres, who are not afraid to do the new stuff.  They deserve our support.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten

Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Venue: Holden Street Theatres

Season: 24 June – 4 July 2015
Duration: 1 hour 40 mins including interval
Tickets: $18.00 – $25.00
Bookings: Holden Street Theatres Box Office 8223 1450 or visiting www.holdenstreettheatres.com/mutts

Disclaimer: Brian Godfrey is the Arts Editor for Glam Adelaide

Visit the Holden Street Theatre website

Read our interview with Mutts playwright, Johnny Grim

Read our earlier article about this play

 

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About Author

Tracey Korsten is a freelance writer, poet, speaker and performer, based in Adelaide. She blogs at middleagedlove.

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