‘The Little Dog Laughed’ at Silver Spring Stage by David Friscic

0
1

FOUR STARS
The Little Dog Laughed will make you smile with recognition at the hypocrisy and contradictions inherent in this game of day-to-day survival we call life. This acid-like portrait of the compromises one must make in order to get ahead in this “dog eat dog” world is all too relevant on an individual basis and on a societal basis. This light yet trenchant play by Douglas Carter Beane (author of the currently-running The Nance and the new revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) compels us to sit raptly while the savage etiquette and personal political choices of this cast of four characters plays out on the intimate stage at Silver Spring Stage.

Aspiring Hollywood actor Mitchell (Eric Jones) and lover Alex (Robert Littler). Photo by Harvey Levine.
Aspiring Hollywood actor Mitchell (Eric Jones) and lover Alex (Robert Kittler). Photo by Harvey Levine.

The scenario of the arrogant, sarcastic agent Diane (Leta Hall) who wants to make sure that her client-handsome actor Mitchell (Eric Jones) – can convincingly gain the lustful attentions of female audience members (when, in reality, he is a closeted gay male) makes for a darkly comic series of vignettes on themes of public persona, hidden identities and the quandaries of making moral and personal choices of real desire instead of settling for the easy answer. Complications ensue when rent-boy Alex (Robert Kittler) falls for Mitchell even though he is already involved with the delightful Ellen (Dana Medford).

Under the Direction of Eric Scerbo, this energetic ensemble works valiantly to capture the verbal virtuosity of Beane’s writing and they are to be applauded for tackling such mature and complex fare. Overall, they are successful but the dualities in the characters of Jones and Hall need to be more fully developed and the production needs to move a bit more briskly. Jones captures the man in love but not the inner anguish. In the high-profile role of the bilious agent Diane, Hall is a shade too stolid and literal in her delivery in a part that calls out for quicksilver comic timing. Hall is best at breaking through the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. More successful is the drifting rent-boy Alex, played with just the right amount of loquacious languor the part demands by Kittler. Dana Mefdord’s portrayal of Ellen is a charming composite of this vulnerable yet tough character.

Ellen (Dana Medford). Photo by Harvey Levine.
Ellen (Dana Medford). Photo by Harvey Levine.

Most successful and effective is Scerbo’s direction as he paces this piece with a succession of slow-dissolves and fade-outs that are almost cinematic in feel. Scerbo is aided here by the evocative Lighting Design of Bob Scott. The Set Design by Joy Wyne is serviceable but especially compelling is the design of a sliding screen that could be easily manipulated to show scenes and monologues in juxtaposition to the action center stage. Costume Design by Mark Hamberger is top-notch.After two hours of crisis alternating with hilarity, we can finally leave this “dog-eat-dog” world of Los Angeles and New York City show business hypocrisy and have the requisite happy ending where ‘The Little Dog Laughed.’

If you are looking for fare that is offbeat, mature and darkly comic, look no further than Silver Spring Stage’s production of The Little Dog Laughed.

Running Time: About two hours, with one intermission.

The Little Dog Laughed┬áplays though June 8, 2013 at Silver Spring Stage inn Woodmoor Shopping Center – 10145 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD. For tickets, purchase them online, or call the box office at (301) 593-6036.

Previous articleFilichia on Friday: ‘Welcome, 2013-2014’ by Peter Filichia
Next article‘August: Osage County’ at The Theatre Lab of the Dramatic Arts by Max Johnson
David Friscic
David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college to making numerous treks to New York City to indulge his interest in live theatre. An enthusiastic interest in writing has shown itself in a BA in English/Education and an MA in English Literature. Taken together, these two interests have culminated in the logical conclusion of writing for an arts blog. David moved up and down the East Coast due to his father's job at General Electric and this has helped him to perceive the world in a very open way. After his schooling, David taught in Catholic school systems for awhile and, then, spent three years in the seminary with two years at Catholic University studying Theology and one year in a practicuum working at a church in New York State. David currently works at the National Science Foundation as a Technical Information Specialist for the Office of Polar Programs and has had the great opportunity to go to Antarctica twice and Greenland once in support of the research community. He enjoys living in Bethesda and has taken courses at the Writer's Center. David enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and working on committees at his condo. His major interest, however, is the arts and all it encompasses---from symphony, to film, to museum treks to live theatre. He counts having lunch with Lillian Gish and meeting Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Liza Minnelli and Sandy Dennis as some of the more exciting encounters of his life.