No canines take to the stage in Paul Minx’s two-hander The Dog Walker. This is probably something of a mercy for them, though the novelty factor might at least have diverted from what is a distinctly muddled piece of writing.
Agoraphobic self-help writer Keri isn’t quite down and out as she can afford an apartment in New York and a dog walker for her elderly Pekingese Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (a girl). She whiles away her time drinking, smoking and pill popping while awaiting the arrival of a ‘ghost girl’. Into the chaos walks Mr Herbert Doakes, a Jamaican immigrant and platitudinous, sexually frustrated Christian, who takes on a role closer to an unauthorised social worker than a dog walker.
Victoria Yeates (Call the Midwife’s dainty Sister Winifred) throws herself wholeheartedly into enlivening the self-loathing Keri’s erratic behaviour and Andrew Dennis wrings some humour out of Herbert’s pomposity.
Designer Isabella van Braeckel’s set consists of a dishevelled apartment littered with bottles and other debris and Fergus O’Hare’s sound design effectively highlights the way in which Keri’s sole means of communication is by shouting to her mother and other passersby from the window.
Much of the physical humour in Harry Burton’s production, particularly the scene in which CPR is performed on poor Wolfgang, isn’t funny, nor is Herbert’s drunkenness in the final segment. Though Burton tries to keep things spiky, the audience is longing for walkies before the 90-minute running time is up.