dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

The Dog/The Cat review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘charming performances, flimsy material’

Scene from The Dog/The Cat at Hope Theatre, London. Photo: Joe Twigg

Brendan Cowell and Lally Katz’s romcom double-bill sold out its Australian run twice over in 2015. Despite the best efforts of the production it’s hard to see the appeal.

Exploring the absurdities of modern relationships through household pets is a cutesy prospect, but both plays suffer from weak writing, despite dedicated performances and Sharon Burrell’s playful direction.

Cowell’s play, The Dog, is the weaker of the two: a potentially interesting and subversive exploration of male friendship masquerading as a romantic comedy, it lacks the depth necessary to make its mark and instead relies on oddly dated references to Tinder and CrossFit to raise cheap laughs. It’s a technique that quickly begins to grate and feels irritatingly shallow. Frederick Di Rosa, Gemma Harvey and Thomas Blackburne give committed and amiable performances, but there’s only so much they can do with such insubstantial material.

Katz’s The Cat, by contrast, is a self-aware, surreal satire of modern love that tips into a knowingly silly farce. Blackburne, as the titular pet caught between his divorcing owners, brings a knowingness to his role and easily steals the show.

Laura Weston’s movement direction is enjoyably slapstick, but the play suffers when it lapses into ill-advised musical numbers that detract and undermine the slick comedy that preceded them. The hard-working cast and director try their hardest, but it’s not enough to compensate for a thin text.

Actor and writer Brendan Cowell: ‘I fell to pieces every night playing Galileo. It was terrifying’

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Charming performances go some way to enlivening a flimsy double-bill
^