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Review: Dog/Actor at Corpus Playroom, Cambridge

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Dog/Actor, a double-bill of two short one-man plays, had the last of its three-day run at the ADC’s Corpus Playroom on Saturday, July 9.

Dog/Actor. Picture: Cat Humphries
Dog/Actor. Picture: Cat Humphries

After delays caused by the pandemic, Threedumb Theatre is finally presenting its UK tour of this intriguing work by Steven Berkoff. The 50-minute production - performed and directed by Stephen Smith, artistic director of Threedumb Theatre - will now go on to the Camden Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe.

The first play, Dog, follows a day in the life of a football hooligan and his beloved pitbull terrier, Roy. It’s an entertaining piece which initially relies solely on movement and sound effects created by the actor - who demonstrates amazing physicality throughout, particularly when he gets down on all fours to play the angry dog before springing back up to portray its owner.

It’s dark, thought-provoking, funny at times and ultimately quite moving and Smith also succeeds in generating some genuine sympathy for this initially unlikeable character.

Dog/Actor. Picture: Cat Humphries
Dog/Actor. Picture: Cat Humphries

The second play, Actor, is a spoken-word monologue which looks at the acting industry as it humorously and poignantly portrays the trying life of a struggling artist.

Set to a recorded backing track, which the actor then turned on and off with a loop pedal, the piece takes the audience on an emotional roller-coaster ride, bringing to mind at times perhaps the greatest and most bitter ‘resting actor’ of them all: the character of Withnail from the film Withnail & I.

Dog/Actor. Picture: Cat Humphries
Dog/Actor. Picture: Cat Humphries

Once again, the energy level that Smith demonstrates is impressive as the white make-up he applies at the start slowly runs down his face and disappears due to the sweat and the stress, symbolic of the actor’s initial optimism and dream of ‘making it’ slowly starting to fade away as reality not only hits but also starts to pass him by. This was a stunning piece of theatre which I have to say I enjoyed more than Dog.

[Read more: One-man play Dog/Actor on this week at the ADC, Cambridge]

It may have taken a while to get here but Dog/Actor, a unique and memorable theatrical experience, was certainly worth the wait. For more information, visit threedumbtheatre.com/dogactor.

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