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HOT DOG The Last Refuge

Hot Dog, The Last Refuge, BargainTheatreland ReviewA Theatre in an old warehouse in Peckham plays host to the premiere of a new play by Sarah Kosar for one week in Hot Dog by Descent Theatre. Wrap up warm and take full advantage of the blankets provided for the audience!

The play’s original roots are important for understanding some of the ‘why’ about the script. The author notes in an interview that the initial idea was of a daughter who didn’t care if her mother died, and things went from there. However the idea did not clearly develop straightforwardly, because what you’ll see investigates the struggles of the situation between a decaying mother and her two daughters from a more complicated perspective. Maryanne (Penny Lisle) and Carol (Rebecca Crankshaw) cannot be said to not care for their mother (brilliantly played by Tessa Hatts) – instead they initially try, and then dutifully attempt to overcome the natural inclinations to abandon their awful mother, eventually feeling unable to continue.

Hot Dog explores the idea of children choosing between their parents and living for themselves. It’s a scenario nearly everyone faces. Here the challenge is a mother without a single streak of positive contribution onto her daughters other than providing some allowance in return for being looked after. Alone, miserable and bitter, we are never presented with any underlying purpose to The Dog’s continued interest in life. A passing reference to how things might have been for Maryanne is all to be seen for what would have made things better.

In the vein of true black comedy, I ended up amused without laughing at the clever script’s punning and vivification of familiar yet mundane ironic relations between families. Any weirdness for having their mother deadpan regarded as a Dog becomes insignificant within a few moments. The symbolism is not overcomplicated and merely directs us in the absence of sympathy from her character to being reminded what The Dog actually is – an older, taken for granted spinster with apparently little to offer. An easy prejudice to make of the old.

Finally if you’re going to make a play set in contemporary small town America, to find English actors whose very faces perfectly fit the surroundings you’re trying to create is some feat. The cast are uniformly convincing both in expression and style, at least match what would drive my imagination of this scene in real life. A play that leaves a lasting and interesting impression.

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Reviewed 13/03/13

By Piero McCarthy

12th – 17th March 2013
The Last Refuge, London, SE15.

www.thelastrefuge.co.uk

www.descenttheatre.co.uk

Hot Dog The Last Refuge

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