Left – Xavier Samuel and Andrea Demetriades. Cover – Benedict Hardie and Andrea Demetriades. Photos – Brett Boardman.
Two of Australia’s much loved playwrights, Brendan Cowell
and Lally Katz
have combined to blow a breath of fresh air into Belvoir St’s Downstairs Theatre with their two short romantic comedies, TheDog/The Cat
The writing in both plays is polished, beguiling and very very funny. Ralph Myers
directs them both with panache and they are performed with an assured charm by the trio of actors: Andrea Demetriades, Benedict Hardie
and Xavier Samuel
Both plays are about divorcing couples and the difficulties associated with having to deal with their pets after a breakup.
In the first play, The Dog
, newly separated Ben
) and his dog Jerry move in with his old friend Marcus
). These “Odd Couple” housemates: drunken, shambolic and emotionally frayed script writer, Ben
and uptight nerdy app developer, Marcus
have taken on the joint custody of Jerry, taking turns to walk him in their local park. Like Buzo’s bus stop and Albee’s park bench, dog parks provide the perfect opportunity to befriend strangers. Here they meet Miracle
, the clever and practical International Studies lecturer at the University of Sydney and vie for her attention.
In addition to Cowell’s
full arsenal of dog jokes, no inner city hipster sacred cow is left unscathed. Craft beer, Birkenstocks, Capoeira, Screen Australia, app designers, Tinder – they all cop a gentle but hilarious mocking. The audience were not just laughing, they were snorting. Cowell’s
play is not without depth. Along with the blokey good humour, it is quite serious in its sensitive portrayal not only of the pain of loss, but also the ability of new friendships to both heal and inspire. Lally Katz’s The Cat
has the same director and actors. It is just as comic and touching as The Dog
, but it is far more deliciously fanciful. In a clever touch, demonstrating they are companion pieces, Katz
occasionally echoes phrases from Cowell’s
play in hers. Like The Dog
, the pain of separation is movingly expressed, but in this short play Katz
deals not only with the difficulties of the divorcing couple, Alex
, but also how a divorce can affect dependents. Alex
decide to share custody of their cat on a week on, week off basis, with unexpected results. This play mixes the absurd with a little touch of Vegas. There’s singing, there’s dancing and a razzle dazzle ending that you will not expect.
The acting is uniformly excellent. Both Hardie
were wonderful playing unlikeable but such vulnerable comic characters in The Dog
is a terrifically entertaining comic actor and a wonderful foil to Demetriades’
more realist delivery style. Hardie’s
descriptions of his new app, uDoin, are particularly hilarious.
Costumes, set, sound and lighting design remain pared back, for the most part. Myers
has designed a bare, black painted stage to allow the focus to remain entirely on the talents of his three superb actors and their delivery of Cowell’s
fresh and funny new scripts.
Belvoir presentsThe Dog / The Cat
The Dog by Brendan Cowell
The Cat by Lally KatzDirector
Belvoir St Theatre | 25 Belvoir St, Surry HillsDates:
18 June – 26 July 2015Times:
Tuesday 7pm | Wednesday to Friday 8.15pm | Saturday 2.15pm & 8.15pm | Sunday 5.15pmTickets
: $48 – $38Bookings:
02 9699 3444 | belvoir.com.au