Dog Show Melbourne Fringe Festival Created by: Cassandra Fumi & Alice Fitzgerald Where: Arts House - Warehouse When: Season over. Fringe festival continues tonight. Rating: ★★★★
By MONISHA ISWARAN
In a competitive dog show, three different breeds and their owners battle to be the best. Audience members get to see a different side to the effect this process can have on the pups we love so much.
Dog Show aims to raise awareness of the impossible standards we place on ourselves and those around us, presented via a dog show.
Actors Simone French, Alex Roe and Adam Ibrahim played both the dogs and their owners, sliding in and out of their challenging roles apparently effortlessly. All three committed wholeheartedly to the canine physicality they embodied at many points throughout the show.
The conventions of a dog show proved to be a creative and effective means of portraying the central theme to the audience, wi tithe performance culminating in the dogs rebelling against societal pressures and being liberated.
The intimate setting and audience participation allowed viewers to feel continually involved in the show. However, if it had been put on for a larger audience, the realistic atmosphere of being in the stands of a dog show could have been heightened.
Nonetheless, the movement between the three different actors and their extremely different styles kept the audience on their toes – there was never a dull moment.
Another interesting element was the choice to have audience members reading out lines that pertained to the expectations of the dogs at the show.
It emphasised that a lot of the pressure we face as a society comes from our own dictation. It was also amusing to see different audience members take on their own part in the performance.
Ibrahim was a true highlight. His prowess as a dancer was showcased for a large percentage of the show, as he filled the performance space with his energy and commitment to character. At times he overshadowed his cast mates, although every performer on stage was good.
The true climax of the show came in the closing scene, wherein the dogs remove their collars and embody the beasts they truly are inside – displayed through dance, expressions of sexuality and dimmed lighting. It was the perfect conclusion.
While the show’s overall message was in some ways dark and designed to provoke thought, it managed to do so in ways that had the audience laughing all the way through.
It offered a fresh perspective, an interesting style of storytelling and actors extremely talented in physically demanding performance.