Hot Dog - Theatre review by Wendy Thomson

Hot Dog written by Sarah Kosar is a thought provoking black comedy set in a world where the elderly are dehumanised and become the pets of their family. It’s a very clever play highlighting the problems faced worldwide by a growing aging population.

The Dog, who is widowed and now lives alone deftly played by Tessa Hatts is cared for by eldest daughter Maryanne (Penny Lisle) who lives with her husband Michael (Ryan Anthony-Jones) in a small American town. How much easier the task of caring for our elderly would be if they were lovable kindly old dears grateful for our company, regaling us with tales of youthful daring dos and generous to a fault. Unfortunately The Dog is a different, just as valid type of elderly person – scared, manipulative, spiteful, insecure and in a constant power struggle with her family, unable to accept she has moved down the pecking order.

Maryanne has put her life on hold spending years caring for The Dog to the detriment of her career and desires, and hopes to be rescued by newly divorced younger sister Carol (Rebecca Crankshaw). The Dog pays for her care and has high expectations, but when you see that what she receives are dinners out of a dog bowl and walks on a lead, you can’t help but draw a parallel with the exorbitant cost of care homes vs the quality of care and service.

The set consists of two kitchen tables reflecting the heart of two family homes. The Dog is often eating alone at her larger table while the younger members of the family eat together at Maryanne’s house. It demonstrates the isolation old people feel, even if they have brought it on themselves by being cantankerous.

Direction by Faye Merralls is taut, incorporating costume changes. Lighting from Nadia Nielson and music focus the audience attention. The only directorial decision I found distracting was having The Dog phone her daughters when she was not in the scene yet the actor was visible on stage.

The power struggle in the family and the unacceptable behaviour from The Dog makes it difficult to decide where sympathy lies and who has the moral upper hand. Hot Dog will have you thinking who was right? How could things have been different? What else could they have done? Who was the abuser and who was the abused?

There are many ‘Dogs’ in our society. When I left the theatre there was a chap sitting on the wet ground outside the train station begging. He’d been there when I arrived and was there two to three hours later when I left. Where are his family? What has happened in his life for him to be alone? and Whose problem is it?

Grab this play at the Sunday matinee at 4pm before you miss out. You won’t be disappointed.

© Wendy Thomson 2013
Reviewed Friday 15th March 2013

Note: The Last Refuge is a wonderful venue but unfortunately difficult to find and cold inside the theatre itself at this time of year. Avail yourself of the lap blankets and hot water bottles thoughtfully left out for the audience. Make sure you ask for directions, the main door to the venue could do with additional signage.

Cast:
Maryanne: Penny Lisle
The Dog: Tessa Hatts
Carol: Rebecca Crankshaw
Michael: Ryan Anthony-Jones

Crew:
Written by: Sarah Kosar
Directed by: Faye Merralls
Lighting Designer Nadia Nielson
Co-Producer/Literary Manager Keziah Warner
Co-Producer/Casting Director Stephanie Lodge

Dates: Tuesday 12th – Sunday 17th March, 2013
Times: Tue-Sat: 8pm, Sun: 4pm
Duration: 90 mins no interval
Venue: The Last Refuge | 133 Rye Lane, Peckham Rye, London, SE15 4ST
Tickets: £12/£8 (concs)
Booking: www.thelastrefuge.co.uk

www.descenttheatre.co.uk | facebook.com/descenttheatre | @descenttheatre
http://www.thelastrefuge.co.uk | http://www.facebook.com/thelastrefugepage | http://twitter.com/TheLastRefugeUK

Female Arts info on... Hot Dog http://femalearts.com/node/382
Descent Theatre http://femalearts.com/node/381
The Last Refuge: http://femalearts.com/node/372

Hot Dog the playtext is available to purchase from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Dog-Sarah-Kosar/dp/0957449186/ref=sr_1_1?s=b...

Author's review: 
4