Dogs of War
William Shakespeare / adapted by Josy Miller & David Blixt
Institute for the Exploration of Theatre, Dance and Performance
Assembly, George Square
Director / adaptor Josey Miller along with David Blixt have strung together bits of Shakespeare’s war speeches from Henry IV parts 1 & 2, Henry V, Henry VI parts 1 2 & 3, The Life and Death of King John, Richard II and Richard III for this large production, loosely to tell a story. The truly famous speeches are absent.
It's a bit disconcerting and a little telling that there seem to be more bodies on the stage than in the audience. One can understand; Shakespeare and War are not big draws. But these performers are on stage as the audience enters, stretching and vocalizing.
Anna Chalmers and to a lesser extent Jesse Jensen and Heather Nolan seem to make the best of the material and the format. The actors tend to indicate rather that root the text in action and reaction. The intonation is correct; one yells when one is angry. But it needs to be grounded in real experience. There is a lot of "acting" going on.
Sadly, it comes off little better than a drama school showcase. I think if the director and actors had more time with the script, they might be able to relate to it. The characters are lost to the acting.
The costumes (suggested) are serviceable. But there was a decision made by someone that a video camera and projections would enhance the production. Make it look slicker. It doesn’t work because it doesn’t really serve the production. It pulls focus.
Dogs of War doesn’t quite hang together. It's a good start. One hopes that director Josy Miller will go back to the text as I’m sure there is a good story there.
Reviewer: Catherine Lamm