Colonial Players Dog LogicBy Mari Davis • Jun 16th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Colonial Players Theater, Annapolis, MD
Through June 26th
$20/$15 Seniors and Students
Reviewed June 11, 2010
The Colonial Players’ production of Dog Logic is both simple and profound. Theater-goers are bound to enjoy this modern, thought-provoking show.
Dog Logic could be construed as a social narrative, told from the unique perspective of a man who thinks like a dog–a dog that has no use for commercialism or religion (jabs at Christianity surface at a couple points in the dialogue). The story revolves around a trio of people who inherit a pet cemetery, now prime commercial real-estate. Unlike many modern plays, Dog Logic has a surprisingly satisfactory ending after throwing the audience a couple of exciting curveballs.
Director Carol Youmans has crafted an excellent show for Colonial Players. It would be easy for another director to do this script a disservice, but Youmans and her design team are to be commended for their superior presentation of Dog Logic.
The set design was fabulous. Clearly, Dick Whaley and Laurie Nolan, with Youmans, put a lot of thought into set design, decoration, and implementation. Every large set piece had a purpose and most of the smaller pieces were utilized in some capacity. The dirt and scrub grass on the floor was especially successful in taking me by surprise; in almost any other theater the effect would have been lost.
Ben Carr as Hertel gave a great performance and carried the show very well. My only criticism would stem from the opening sequences where his character throws questions at the audience and leaves long, empty, confusing pauses. A more conversational tone that doesn’t expect an answer may help to alleviate that awkwardness in future performances. Overall, Carr’s performance was stellar. Hertel was funny without being a caricature, unique without being a farce. His energy and pacing set the tone for the whole show and seemed to create cohesion between the actors.
Shirley Panek as Kaye, Hertel’s ex-wife, was very strong and complemented Carr’s energy very well. Her character was very emotional, but Panek effectively avoided portraying Kaye as pathetic. Her dynamic emotional diversity was another gem in this production’s proverbial crown.
Kathryn Huston sufficiently filled the role of Hertel’s absentee mother, Anita. Her acting seemed somewhat wooden when she was unsure what to do with her hands or facial expressions. However, she was still charming and captured Anita’s professional manner well.
Jim Reiter as Dale, a janitor seeking his fortune in real estate, was the biggest “character” on the stage. Reiter’s shining moments were during the most intensely emotional scene of the show where he provided the comic relief. His timing, delivery, and ensuing silence were hugely effective.
The overall quality of the production was superb. Great pacing, terrific energy, and excellent interpretation caught up the audience and told a great story. If you want a fun show that still has substance, this is the show for you.
What exactly, you may ask, is dog logic and why has Tom Strelich chosen it for his play’s title? Over the many months we’ve been working on this play, I have been asked that question repeatedly. Hertel Daggett, Strelich’s beleaguered hero, gives us the answer in word and deed in the course of the play. Dogs take in the world most effectively through their sense of smell, seven times as perceptive as ours. They live in the moment almost exclusively. They have little or no sense of their future, not tomorrow, not next week. A dog’s brain is a simple mechanism: when they want something, they act to get it. Their desires and behaviors are triggered by what they see, hear and smell. They chase a squirrel, scratch on a door to go out or in, bark to warn a stranger off their turf. They dig to hide a smelly bone or the trackable evidence of their own passing and they dig again when scent promises a useful result: a mole, a rabbit, the solution to what they want. It is a simple logic: sense something, act. When Hertel reverts to his simpler brain, he digs.
- Hertel: Ben Carr
- Dale: Jim Reiter
- Kaye: Shirley Panek
- Anita: Kathryn Huston
- Director: Carol Youmans
- Producer: Sarah Forman
- Stage Manager: Herb Elkin
- Stage Crew: Christina McAlpine, Sarah Forman, Bob Walker
- Set Design: Carol Youmans, Dick Whaley
- Lead Carpenter: Dick Whaley
- Carpenters: Lee Craft, Jim Robinson, Ted Yablonski
- Set Painting: Laurie Nolan
- Set Decoration: Carol Youmans, Laurie Nolan
- Lighting Design: Andrea Elward
- Lighting Consultant: Alex Baños
- Sound Design: David Colburn
- Lighting/Sound Technicians: Terry Averill, Sarah Forman, Jenn Murphy
- Costume Design: Julie Bays
- Hair/Makeup: Carol Youmans
- Properties Design: JoAnn Gidos
- Properties Assistant: Mike Gidos
- Special TV Effects: David Colburn, Wes Bedsworth
- Accordion Tutor: Mike Gidos
- Rehearsal Assistant: Angie Dey
- Production Consultant: JoAnn Gidos
- Play Consultant: Darice Clewell
- Program/Poster Design: Jim Gallagher
- Photography: Colburn Images
- Program Editor: Tom Stuckey
Disclaimer: Colonial Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5105.
Mari Davis is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.