Written by Christopher Boal & Directed by Eric Parness
Extended run through Aug 26th
Like little yappy dogs, the characters in this play just seem to irk more than interest. Why do I care about these people and their strange back stories, secrets, manipulations and animal-involved traumas? This was my question through out the performance, all the while waiting, willing and able, to be amazed by some twist of events, uncovering a depth and complexity of human emotion and relations. All I found was a middling opinion of humanity; a sad non-complexity and over-simplicity of four messy, individuals. Perhaps this is the point.
Equally uninteresting is the plot which unfolds as angst-ridden sister Jenny bribes good-for-nothing boyfriend Kevin to dog-knap straight-laced brother Paul’s dog in order to get a confession for the back-in-the-day murder of the family cats. It is of course a cry-out from indulgent sister, which amounts to the break-down of usually stable brother. Wife and boyfriend add buffering/prodding.
I guess the point at the end of the day is that people are pathetic and selfish; sad matter that, but explains a lot about the world. That said the acting was good, with strong physical thoroughness from Wrenn Schmidt (Jenny) and an easy humor from Ryan Tramont (Kevin). The dialogue seemed repetitive, however, the first act especially trying, and the climax- an emotionally/mentally ugly, ultimately estranging confession from Paul- was thoroughly expected. I am open to think that others may find these characters recognizable and sympathetic (the play has been “critically acclaimed”- good review from the NYT) but they seem to me cliché and without rescue here. At least the dog didn’t die.