Dogstar*** (Tabard Theatre, 14 November 2013)

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Theatre

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

When heading out to the wild, wild west of London, where the M4 is the fastest road out of town (sometimes), why not mosey into the Tabard saloon to take in a performance of, yes, a western? Leaving aside a few musicals, westerns on stage are virtually unknown these days, so, on grounds of rarity alone, this production should be welcomed into town. Greg Freeman’s play is a comic allegory about ownership and greed. Dogstar is a drifter who turns up with nothing, not even enough money to pay for a glass of bottled water in the saloon. Its owner, Clay, is the local big wig who also owns everything else and everyone else around. The town ain’t big enough for both of them. Ben Warwick has a brooding presence and weathered look as the enigmatic Dogstar and he is the only character to sound even vaguely American. Rhys King plays Clay as a spiv more like a nasty Arthur Daley than a figure from the old west. Jaymes Sygrove gives an amusing performance as Jed, a dim-witted barman and the alluring Laura Pradelska as Violet makes it seem very unlikely that her character is the town’s only virgin. On his way into town, the anti-capitalist Dogstar protected Violet’s virtue by killing seven of the dastardly Lehman brothers (most of the jokes are less obvious) and the quartet now waits nervously in the saloon for the arrival of the remaining Lehmans seeking their revenge. The play is all undemanding fun, cleverly written with short, snappy lines that give it the feel of a long (rather too long at 85 minutes?) comedy sketch. Many of the jokes are very inventive and their droll delivery by a strong cast makes them even funnier. Director and designer Ken McClymont keeps things moving at a brisk pace on his saloon bar set, which makes good use of the limited space. There is enough originality and good humour here to brighten a dark November evening and allow us to saddle up and hit the trail home in a happy mood.

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