Writer: Liz Duffy Adams
Director: Erin Cronican
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Living through a collective trauma is exhausting.
That is perhaps the most obvious opening sentence of anything this reviewer has ever written, but sometimes one must state the blatantly apparent: we, as a culture, as a local/regional/national/global community, have been through the wringer. In addition to the effects of a global pandemic, political upheaval, and myriad other things, it is perhaps the isolation (as a result of said pandemic) that has magnified the stress of these events. We cannot gather to process our feelings, theatres have been closed, even a trip out to gather essentials for our home can often feel more harrowing than heartening.
Carrying this energy with us, it makes The Seeing Place Theatre’s Dog Act a pertinent and challenging play to experience. Utilizing gallery mode in Zoom with clever backgrounds featuring the art of Laura Bonacci, Liz Duffy Adams’ play about a troupe of vaudevillians traversing a post-apocalyptic wasteland packs a punch amplified by the fact that we are viewing it from inside our homes for the sake of collective safety. The cast, each performing from their own location, create a fantastic sense of ensemble under director Erin Cronican’s leadership. It truly makes the viewer wish they could experience the work of Cronican, Jon L Peacock, Robin Friend, Hailey Vest, William Ketter, Brandon Walker, and Weronika Helena Wozniak live onstage.
Dog Act explores what is left when all else seems lost. There are moments of danger and violence, song and joy. The question of whether one is safer on one’s own or in the collective of a group – and if so, which group? – becomes paramount to survival. Storytellers are sacred, but are left to carry their burdens on their own. This is a play that can bring up intense emotional responses during these charged times. It is important to know that going in – also worth noting is that the live stream on 7 February will feature a talkback with therapist Tracy Sidesinger, wherein the audience can speak directly with both the company and Dr. Sidesinger about the thoughts and feelings this play evokes.
Dog Act is a challenging play, particularly in our current circumstances. But The Seeing Place Theatre has made a compelling online adaptation that is worth watching if one is interested in a darkly satirical take on doomsday theatre. And though the genre may be doomsday, The Seeing Place gives hope: both in providing the talkback with Dr. Sidesinger, as well as producing Dog Act as a benefit for The Food Pantry at St. Clement’s. Tickets and more information can be found here.
Available Online Through 12 February 2021 | Photo Credit: The Seeing Place Theatre