BWW Reviews: Stray Dog Theatre's Consistently Amusing Production of THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED
In our current celebrity-obsessed world, Hollywood is still a dream factory inhabited by people who are held to a higher standard, even though they're just as screwed up and insecure as the rest of us. We're all searching for happiness of some sort, but we're often too willing to sell out what our heart's desire if it stands any chance of jeopardizing our current success. Douglas Carter Beane examines this paradoxical behavior in his brilliant comedic work The Little Dog Laughed, and Stray Dog Theatre continues their fine season with a very good production of this timely work.
Diane is actor Mitchell Green's agent and confidante, literally running his life for him. And, he's all the more better for it career-wise. He's kept his homosexuality in the closet to appease Diane (although the fact she's a lesbian is immaterial) and prolong his status as a romantic male lead. But, when he drunkenly orders up a male prostitute while in New York to pick up an award, he gets more than he bargained for. Handsome young Alex seems like a hustler at first, but when a more sober Mitchell invites Alex back the next day, a passion develops between the pair that neither expects. When bisexual Alex knocks up his gal pal Ellen, complications arise that only super agent Diane can remedy.
Sarajane Alverson is hilarious as Diane, bringing down the house with her excellent comic timing She's trying to get Mitchell to realize his folly while also jockeying to produce a film version of a play, whose plot, and its subsequent re-writes, is beginning to mirror what we're seeing play out on stage. She knows her own happiness and success are directly tied to Mitchell's, and she solves their dilemma in true Hollywood fashion. Bradley Berhmann delivers a good performance as Mitchell. Conflicted by his natural tendencies, Mitchell veers wildly between emotional extremes at times, and Behrmann keeps the character grounded. He's a bit of a narcissist as you would expect, but it's neatly balanced with an insecure vulnerability.
Paul Cereghino is equally up to the task as Alex, ably conveying the struggle that his character faces as well. He's not sure what he wants out of life either, but by the time he finally figures it out and wants to commit, it may be too late. Paige Hackworth is amusing as Ellen, Mark's on-again, off-again girlfriend, who wants to be rich and famous, but thinks she's washed up at twenty-four.
Gary Bell's direction is very well done. This is a nicely cast show, with considerable chemistry present in the interactions of the players. Rob Lippert aids in the effort with an elegant bi-level scenic design enhanced by Tyler Duenow's expert lighting. Zachary. Bell's simple and effective costuming suits each character well.
The Little Dog Laughed continues through February 22, 2014 at the Tower Grove Abbey. This funny production is well worth your time and attention.
photo credit: John Lamb