A 'Weird And Wonderful' Spoof Western

Penny Flood reviews Dogstar, at the Tabard Theatre


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Greg Freeman’s latest satire doesn’t disappoint.

Dogstar is a glorious send up of the obsession with possession, capitalism and tradition. A quirky western comedy with more than a nod to the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter, right down to the red paint. It’s entertaining, it keeps you guessing and it’s very funny.

Dogstar (Ben Warwick), a mysterious stranger strolls into town and pitches up at a bar for a drink of water. He’s got no money but nothing ain’t free in this town, not even water. The whole town and everyone and everything above, under and in it belongs to the obnoxious Clay, a marvellously slimy, Brylcremed Rhys King, with a creepy voice.

The town is under threat from an approaching band of brigands even more greedy and ruthless than Clay and he’s scared. But before the attack there’s plenty of time for some hilarious moral, political and economic arguments with points on both sides. Clay might own the water, after it has fallen from the sky, but Dogstar claims to own the land because he won a big pebble in a poker game.

And when Violet (Laura Predelska), the only virgin in town turns up there’s plenty of innuendo thrown into the mix as they discuss the value of a woman’s honour. Violet is guarding her status with a chastity belt but it soon becomes clear that it’s available to the highest bidder, like everything else in this town.

The fourth member of the crew is Jed (James Sygrove) the hapless, twitchy barman who acts almost as a Greek Chorus as he tells Dogstar the truth about the town and his horrible boss and the strange practise of removing the nipples of baby boys at birth. The dialogue is sharply observed, peppered with clever one-liners and sly references to modern capitalist bullies. In this town you even have to pay to go to the loo!

Look out for the running gag with a painting of Van Gough’s Sunflowers

It’s written by Greg Freeman who also wrote the strange and witty No Picnic and the highly acclaimed DOIG, both of which have been performed at the Tabard. Freeman’s talent is the ability to deliver political and social satire which stays on the right side of farce without becoming didactic or tedious.

Sharp direction and atmospheric set design is by Ken McClymont who has worked on other Freeman plays and full marks to both of them.

As well as being funny and entertaining it’s quite charming, played by four skilled actors who seem to be enjoying the play as much as the audience.

It’s only on till the 30th of this month so if you don’t want to miss it, get your skates on.

Penny Flood


November 15, 2013

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