Review: The Little Dog Laughed (New Theatre)

newtheatreVenue: New Theatre (Newtown NSW), Feb 7 – Mar 4, 2017
Playwright: Douglas Carter Beane
Director: Alice Livingstone
Cast: Sarah Aubrey, Brett Rogers, Charles Upton, Madeline Beukers
Image © Bob Seary

Theatre review
It all feels a bit last century, with a movie star struggling to come out of the closet, and his agent seeming to model herself after the cutthroat antics of Wall Street corporate cannibal Gordon Gekko. Douglas Carter Beane’s The Little Dog Laughed is not the trendiest of plays, but its old fashioned structure delivers all we want from a good night out; lots of laughs and a few patronising observations about people we look down upon.

The story is not particularly interesting, but Beane’s dialogue is never short of wit. Diane (the aforementioned agent) is a manic personality with one-liners to die for. Performed by the show-stealing Sarah Aubrey, who ignites the stage with every entrance, the actor leaves a marvellous impression with an approach full of acerbic intensity and scintillating comic timing. Her chemistry with Brett Rogers, who plays Mitchell the movie star, produces extraordinarily precise and delicious scenes of comedy that ensure entertainment value for any viewer.

Alice Livingstone’s direction is trim and taut, for a fun show that asks questions about our values, even if its plastic Hollywoodness feels a world away (Tom Bannerman’s glamorous set design is quite remarkable). We all exist in a commercial reality where honesty and integrity are constantly tested in every social exchange. The Little Dog Laughed looks at the ease with which we make psychological and spiritual compromises for selfish gains, not only preying on others but also eating into our own sense of self-worth. Diane and Mitchell work hard to make their dreams come true, even when their lives turn miserable, they persist, blinded by an unexamined promise of something that cannot exist outside of their imagination.