good dog: our finest review
We’ve received some great reviews for good dog since it’s been on tour for the last three weeks including The Stage, WhatsOnStage, The Telegraph and The Reviews Hub. However, this review written by Hermione McNamara, a sixth form student from Hexham, who came to our performance in Queen’s Hall Arts Centre last week, was the best one we’ve read yet. Hermione attended and reviewed the show as part of Arts Award, an organisation that facilitates the development of young people as artists and arts leaders. The team were honoured to receive such a thoughtful review – consider this blog post as a thank you to Hermione, and a good luck for the rest of your Arts Award.
‘good dog was a 2 and a half hour monologue performed by a young actor (Anton Cross) who described the events of the London riots from a nameless boy’s perspective. It didn’t focus purely on the riots, it in fact felt as if the riots were used metaphorically to personify the tensions that were bubbling out of control on the narrator’s street. It was a beautiful gritty take on the riots and a side of the riots that many around the country may have never thought of or perceived before.
The play was extremely honest and almost tangible, up to the point where, as an audience member, I felt that I could visualise and see the street that the play is situated around, and all the characters involved. I felt by the end, I had an emotional connection to the characters, even the less likeable ones, such as the What-What Girls and the Smoking Boys. I believe that this was achieved by the time lapse over the whole play as the audience watched the narrator move from being a young, ambitious and loveably innocent and naïve in many ways 13-year-old, who used many nostalgic and humorous anecdotes and metaphors to describe the street life and interactions, when setting the lengthy scene at the beginning. We are then swept into 2 or so years in the future where the narrator is still young but becoming tougher and more resilient to the harsh urban life that he is in. He experiences a difficult life, with a mother who seems unable to care for them both, so the son takes responsibility for home life and her work. The nameless ‘Boy’ is also bullied at school and constantly teased and laughed at for his social anxiety and dyslexia which makes education painful physically and emotionally. Nearing the end of the play, Boy ages again to around 18, where school has no importance and he mostly interacts with a girlfriend and continues to observe the unfolding secrets and vices of his street.
The experience of one character was refreshing to me and felt almost as if I was reading a book, and it was all from the narrator’s perspective. This was extremely appealing to me, and felt even comforting as it was so familiar to me, as a book lover. This style of play allowed the audience’s imagination to be constantly used throughout, and for the play to be a personal one as every audience member had their own personal version and vision of the characters and street.
The presentation of the play on stage was minimal, with an immense block made up of climbable wooden slats that at times, glowed intensely, imitating fire and potentially foreshadowing danger. The lighting production and audio was also used as tension intensifiers very effectively, for when Boy got angry it perfectly captured the internal struggle to stay calm, to “be good” in the heat of the moment.
good dog was a story that continually showcased moral struggles and the consequences behind them. Boy, as he grows, is discovering what it really means to “be good” and how that differs from doing what makes a person feel good.’
good dog is currently on tour, our next stop is mac birmingham, before our weeklong residency at The Albany in London. Get your tickets.