BWW Reviews: Take a Road Trip to Sweet Hilarity in Book-It's THE DOG OF THE SOUTH

By: Feb. 16, 2015
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Jim Gall and Christopher Morson in
Book-It's The Dog of the South
Photo credit: John Ulman

Buckle your seat belts as Book-It Repertory Theatre is about to take you to funnytown with the world premiere of their adaptation of Charles Portis's "The Dog of the South". And with its stellar cast and charm and sweetness for days, this is one road trip you don't want to miss.

Best known as the author of "True Grit", Portis takes us on the quest of Ray Midge (Christopher Morson), a meek and quiet little man who's perfectly content with his life of books and studying. But when his wife Norma (Shannon Loys) runs off with his best friend Dupree (Joshua C. Williamson) along with Midge's credit cards and his beloved Ford Torino he sets off on a mission to track them down and get back what matters to him most, his car (and maybe Norma too). Midge tracks them using his credit card statements from Arkansas all the way down to British Honduras and along the way meets several crazy characters including the conning Dr. Reo Symes (Jim Gall) who has his own ulterior motives for wanting to get down south and find his mother (Suzy Hunt).

Director Jane Jones has taken Judd Parkin's adaptation and infused it with a breakneck pace. The dialog and action just kind of bulldozes through making the hilarious antics even more fun. Plus Jones has managed to take on the myriad locales of the piece with minimal sets using some wonderfully innovative staging. The set from Christopher Mumaw switches from Arkansas home to Mexican cantina to church at the drop of a hat with never a lag in the pacing. Jones even manages to portray some alligator wrestling on stage which is a thing of beauty.

Loys and Williamson make for wonderfully ridiculous adversaries to the meek Midge and only make him more likable with their horrible behavior. Hunt is gut bustlingly funny as the overly devout Mrs. Symes along with Gin Hammond as Melba, Mrs. Symes constantly eating companion. And Gall takes blustering con man to a whole new level as he bullies and manipulates his way through every scene with marvelous effect. But it's Morson who is truly outstanding here. He's adorable, engaging and charming with tons of stage presence which is a good thing since he carries about 90% of the show rarely leaving stage. Not only does he manage to make the meek yet obsessed Midge hilarious yet completely sympathetic (even through many not so great decisions) but he manages a subtle arc for the character which lets him grow while putting him right back where he wanted to be to begin with.

But of course much of the love for this piece has to go to Portis and his unknown gem which makes for quite a ride. With my three letter rating system I give this a resounding YAY. This is definitely one you'll want to catch.

"The Dog of the South" from Book-It Repertory Theatre performs at the Center Theatre at the Armory through March 8th. For tickets or information contact the Book-It box office at 206-216-0833 or visit them online at www.book-it.org.



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