My Barking Dog
I go to see any show I can at The Theatre @ Boston Court… which means I see (sadly) just under half of their productions in any given year. You can bank and bet on them. Boston Court completely blows the notion that there is no good theatre in Los Angeles. One of my favorite groups in town, hands down.
Their latest offering My Barking Dog, by Eric Coble will have just opened on the main stage by the time you read this. I knew very little about the show when I fell into my seat for a preview performance. One of my favorite pastimes…seeing shows I know/have heard very little about. I highly recommend the experience, although I’m now realizing I’m putting myself out of work, so maybe just try it occasionally?
Since you’re still reading, MBD is the story of two isolated people living in the same apartment building. Melinda (Michelle Azar) works the night shift at a factory in which her job consists of repetitively feeding paper into a machine. She finds it satisfactory because she can avoid talking to people. Toby (Ed F. Martin) is in his ninth month of unemployment as an office manager and spends his days roaming the apartment in search of a free wi-fi connection enabling him to submit resumes. Their paths never cross (for obvious reasons) until they both receive a visit from a wild coyote. Their curiosity and common experience, combined with the desire to continue to have it again and again… bring them together. Their fixation and obsession, more or less drive them in different, pretty crazy directions. One direction includes a “sexy” encounter between man and beast while the other direction involves researching abandoned buildings and storing gasoline in glass jars… to conduct what one may call a big activist experiment. When I say different direction, I mean different directions!
This show is very well acted. The scenes are short, the language is poetic… but appropriate, and in fact I’d say a necessity for the heightened reality that becomes the show. The set (Tom Buderwitz) starts bare but uniquely evolves with the separate journeys of the characters. Michael Michetti, director (and Co-Artistic Director of the theatre) sets a nice 90-minute pace. And again, the acting is superb… he should get a least a morsel of credit for that. There were projections throughout the show that didn’t do anything for me, but it didn’t distract me, so it wasn’t a problem, it just wasn’t a plus.
It seems to me that My Barking Dog is an interesting show that really was oddly not all that interesting. And for that I place the blame on my lack of caring/identification with the Melinda and Toby. At the top of the show, their isolation was riveting. But perhaps in the playwright’s avoidance of hitting the audience over the head of what to think and how to feel (which I applaud, of course) I left wondering what I was supposed to be thinking about… and more importantly why I wasn’t thinking about it. There were no shortage of important themes to ponder: human connection and lack thereof, the environment (!!), human living encroaching on the wild (hello mountain lion under a house in Los Feliz), when we connect to a cause rather than each other… I can go on. There was rich material present that left me more than able not to think about it. Not that evening. Not the next day.
But I say… go and see what YOU think. For me, it didn’t pass the “so what” test on that particular evening. So, a less than successful piece overall, but a “bad” (and that’s an exaggeration) day at Boston Court is still worth your attention, any day.
My Barking Dog
Boston Court Performing Arts Center
70 N. Mentor Ave Pasadena
Thru May 24, 2015