Playwright: Marius von Mayenburg (translated by Maja Zade)
Director: Eugene Lynch
Cast: Thomas G Burt, Tom Crotty, Samantha Lambert
Images by Shayan Askari
It is always 5:05 o’clock, in Marius von Mayenburg’s nightmarish The Dog, The Night And The Knife. A man is trapped inside a surreal landscape, encountering strange people who all seem to have nefarious intentions, it seems, of wanting to eat him up. The anxiety-riddled work takes us on a bizarre trip, into a space that feels like the semiconscious, where reality exists only in states of compromise. Paranoia is about things that hide beneath the surface, and in von Mayenburg’s play, things are certainly never quite what they seem.
Actor Tom Crotty demonstrates good focus as the protagonist, full of mental concentration, but lacking in physical agility. The production is staid, probably overly serious in its interpretation of von Mayenburg’s writing. Director Eugene Lynch is able to create a sense of macabre for the piece, but the show proves less funny than it could be.
In a variety of roles are Thomas G Burt and Samantha Lambert, both performers introducing an enjoyable theatricality with the ghostly quality they bring to their characters. Burt is particularly delightful with the dynamism he is able to bring to the stage. Also noteworthy is music composer Kailesh Reitmans, who delivers clever atmospheric enhancements for the production, especially effective with the suspense he is able to convey.
There is no denying that art can help deal with psychological and emotional baggage of which no one is excepted. At the theatre, whether we come in contact with cannibals or with the average Joe, there is always opportunity to know ourselves better, and in that process, find a more expansive view of existence that will keep our disquiet in check. In The Dog, The Night And The Knife, von Mayenburg comes to terms with the idea that people are not always kind to one another. It might be a pessimistic realisation, but an acceptance of reality is always a necessary start, before attaining greater epiphanies.