The Short North Stage returned to the Green Room for the second production of their 2012-2013 season of the intimate play, The Little Dog Laughed. It’s nice to watch this theatre company grow. The Green Room has received a makeover for this play, partly from a generous donation from Chuck Arida, and the set is sleek and sophisticated.
Matt Bailey plays Mitchell, a movie star from Los Angeles, in New York with his agent Diane (Lindsey Marlin). They are working to negotiate a deal to buy a play for Mitchell’s next big movie. Their relationship is a bit complicated as Mitchell recently received an award and during his thank you speech, named Diane as the woman who taught him how to love. A shock to her, as she is a lesbian, but she is willing to do what it takes to advance her career.
While drunk one night in his New York hotel room, Mitchell has a seemingly lapse of judgement and calls up a male agency for entertainment. When the hustler Alex (Alex Kip) arrives, Mitchell questions himself and falls asleep. The next morning he is even more confused and in denial about his desires.
Kip and Bailey portray their deepening connection over a short period of time well. In this case, a sort-of one night stand becomes something much more and Bailey is neurotically insecure about it. Though the two find themselves beginning to care for each other, they struggle with admitting their feelings aloud.
Tabloids constantly swirl rumors of actors’ sexual preferences and Douglas Carter Beane wrote The Little Dog Laughed to satire that. As you watch the play, a larger question arises – should your public image limit your personal happiness? Some find themselves wanting a specific career path and feel that in order to get there, they have to limit what may make them happy in their personal lives. But should anyone else really care about your personal life? If you do great things on stage, what should it matter?
Everyone is just looking for what they really want. Although Alex hustles for money, he does has a girlfriend. Maya Sayre has returned as party girl Ellen, who feels at the young age of 24 that “hope is dead.” She and Alex appear to have hooked up out of boredom and maybe to create some normalcy in their everyday worlds they would mostly like to forget. Sayre nails the grittiness of Ellen and you really feel like hope might be lost for her.
It’s Marlin though who really shines in this play. Her monologues are witty and amusing. Her outfits are sleek, sexy, and loaded with baubles. She’s a master negotiator who is a joy to watch. When she speaks to the audience as narrator to advance the play, she is frank business. It’s great.
The best scenes are when all four of the characters are on stage, speaking in turns and double entendres.
Short North Stage has really stepped up their game in The Green Room with The Little Dog Laughed and you’d be amiss to miss it.
The Little Dog Laughed marks the directorial debut for Jonathan Putnam outside of CATCO. The show is for mature audiences as it includes adult humor and sexuality. Tickets are $23. Remaining performances include: November 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8pm and November 11, 18, 25 at 3pm. For more information, visit shortnorthstage.org.