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07:04 | 27th June 2017

Reviews: Live Shows

Mon 8 Feb, 2010
By Robert Ingham


a gay man playing a gay character is “just flaunting it”!

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Review: The Little Dog Laughed:- Words: Robert Ingham

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The Little Dog Laughed is an excellent, well written play flitting between New York and LA, and tells the story of Mitchell (Rupert Friend), Diane (Tamsin Greig), Alex (Harry Lloyd) and Ellen (Gemma Aterton), satirising Hollywood and its attitudes towards its stars, their lovers and those that fall between.

Mitchell is a closeted gay man, torn between wanting worldwide fame and being true to himself, who calls for rent-boy Alex one night when away on business. His agent Diane, who knows that Hollywood is not yet ready for a homosexual leading man, spots a blossoming romance and sets about to stop it, saying that a gay man playing a gay character is “just flaunting it”! Enter Ellen, Alex’s best friend and girlfriend and the stage is set for a tale of love, lust and finding your heart’s desires.




From the very beginning you are captivated by the sheer energy of Tamsin and the smart, witty script. Diane tears strips off the Hollywood movie machine and then “chews and chews”. Nothing is left unturned as she describes what it is really like with the other agents, writers and actors, firing off fantastic one-liners like “A writer with final cut? I’d rather give firearms to small children!” Her performance had the audience in stitches.

Rupert portrays Mitchell as a bit of a Rock Hudson/underconfident/egotistical character and nails the dilemma of a man who knows what he wants but is scared to be exactly who he wants, even if he looks perhaps a little uncomfortable wandering around in just his underwear.

Harry is just sooo cute as Alex and it’s as if the part was written for him. His sensitivity to Mitchell and girlfriend Ellen makes for some truly moving moments, and his comic timing is wonderful. His confusion between thinking he is a straight man sleeping with men for money and realising he might be gay is perfectly placed and he breaths fresh air into each scene.

Gemma plays a girl waking up to the thought that perhaps her boyfriend isn’t exactly what it says on the tin. She brings Ellen to life with a touching vulnerability even if her New York accent is a little “Broadway Musical”, and you half expect her to burst into a song from Wicked at one point but this does not distract from her overall performance.

The Little Dog Laughed is a delight from start to finish. My only bug-bear is Jamie Lloyd’s directing as there are long periods when characters stand, facing each other so the audience only see their profiles. He could have made more use of the stage as they become static during dialogues. This diminishes the script’s power and as a result it feels that this play would suit a smaller, more intimate venue.

However, this show really hangs on Tamsin’s performance. Her comedy is sheer gold from when she is channelling Joan Rivers, to her acerbic tongue that will not give up without having the last word and my bet is on for her collecting a Best Actress award.

This is a truly joyous play showing that even though we all have our depths and our emotional entanglements, we can all be just as shallow and as fickle as a car-park puddle in the sun. And, for once, this is praised as nothing to be ashamed of. Who cares if you’re the dog, the dish or the spoon – celebrate who you are and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

The Little Dog Laughed is on at the Garrick Theatre, Charring Cross Road, London.

From 9th January 2010 – 10th April 2010

Picture credits - Hugo Glendenning

 

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