‘The Dog Walker’ Jermyn Street Theatre – Review
Barking mad, that’s what.
In a good way.
And it’s not Chekov.
In a good way.
Trust me, this one’s gonna split the critics from the audience. Some’ll love it (me!) ‘cos its laugh out loud entertaining and other’s’ll hate it ‘cos its laugh out loud entertaining. The story makes no sense. A lass (Victoria Yeates), clearly too intelligent not to seek help, confines herself to a New York apartment lamenting the shooting of a young girl she failed to save, sharing her time instead with a Pekinese dog and a career publishing profitless e-books. Her self absorption is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of a dog walker (Andrew Dennis) who, with a life allegedly fortified by alternative nocturnal visits to Alcoholics Anonymous and Church, proceeds to disturb both himself and her.
Would these people exist in real life? Would they ever meet if they did? Do we care? Didn’t seem to hold back The Birthday Party.
Victoria Yeates (without the ‘Call the Midwife’ wimple) gives a performance as Keri Levin of such energy and New York (ginger haired Jewish? Is that a thing?) neurosis that it took a moment of getting used to until she crawled, like one of the allergies with which she was afflicted, under the skin of the audience and stayed there, defiant, troubled, excellent. And when Andrew Dennis as Doakes is fired, through Keri’s intervention, from the job he loves (or rather the only proper job he could get), he returns to stage in a must see drunken tour de force. Yeates and Dennis work their socks off – and the audience loved them.
Another tour de force is the team of Isabella Van Braeckel (set and costume design) and Tom Turner (lighting). It ain’t easy make believing that Keri can look out of her window and shout down to her mum, floors below, when you’re already in a basement theatre, yet Turner cracks it with the lighting. And the set design, describing a flat only marginally more messy than home sweet home, is chaotic and comforting in a way Tracy Emin must once have found her famous bed.
Paul Minx, the writer, told me he started on the show twenty years ago and kept it in a drawer for many of them.
I for one am glad it has seen the light of Turner’s day.
By Chris Parkinson