My Barking Dog: Review rundown

onstagelosangelesThis is a tough ‘two hander’ (plus one) that offers a challenge for the actors as well as for the audience. Leave your expectations at home and come to Pasadena to see something just a little bit different.  Truly, Fantastic.

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la_weekly_logo_265x70Like Taste, Benjamin Brand’s recent play about a man driven to devour his own flesh, My Barking Dog by Eric Coble shocks and surprises, and in a most brilliant and entertaining way. Commencing as a portrait of two alienated souls, it builds beyond that initial rendering into a grim but droll commentary on our culture’s chilly dystopian values. Along the way it examines the macabre extremes to which alienation can spur the humblest and most vulnerable people.

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wpid-latimes.gifDirector Michael Michetti’s clarity and focus leave no doubt about the extent of both characters’ comically antisocial repression, though the alternating monologue format of the script’s first third poses a pacing challenge. The piece finds surer footing when Melinda and Toby finally meet as a result of the play’s unseen but transformative third character — a coyote foraging for food on their porches.

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sangabrielvalleytribuneAnd my, oh my, do those natures come out in full force as director Michael Michetti shepherds visible mankind and invisible beasts into this vivid but unimaginable world. His work with his actors is psychologically deep, bringing out truths about human nature. Michetti’s stagecraft, too, is fabulously imaginative. In collaboration with scenic designer Tom Buderwitz, lighting and video designer Tom Ontiveros and sound designer John Zalewski, Michetti cracks open the stage, the characters’ psyches and the audience’s minds.

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wpid-x9.png.pagespeed.ic_.ijr6gp7skw.pngPlaywright Eric Coble receives an incredibly superlative mounting of his smart, witty, theatre of absurd-esque My Barking Dog at the Theatre @ Boston Court. The Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director, Michael Michetti skillfully directs his two brilliant actors (Ed F. Martin and Michelle Azar) in a streamlined, no-fat depiction of two lonely souls possibly finding their ultimate purpose in life. In lesser hands, Coble’s very tricky piece– mundane, but realistically interesting, then slipping over to totally preposterous sci-fi– would be much less effective as an entertainment vehicle.

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stagesceneladotcom2Spectacular indeed are the surprises that scenic designer Tom Buderwitz’s initially stark urban set has in store (and which production stills purposely avoid spoiling). Spectacular too is sound designer John Zalewski’s mix of city and desert sounds coupled with that distinctive, tension-building “Zalewski hum.” Tom Ontiveros’s lighting and video design is equally striking, with Garry Lennon’s just-right costumes revealing much about Tony and Melinda and they journey each embarks upon. And there are some fabulous “body makeup effects” as well.

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