CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE
The Little Dog Laughed
A Searing Spoof of Hollywood

By Amy J. Barry

Don't expect a little dog, but you can expect some laughs in this spoof on celebrity and greed a
Hartford's TheaterWorks.

If you blush easily and have issues about raunchy language and take-it-all-off sex scenes between men,
The Little Dog Laughed is probably not the play for you. But if you're fairly open-minded and looking for
an offbeat diversion from the seriousness of the times, you'll likely enjoy this contemporary (hotel)
bedroom farce with its cast of kooky characters.

The show by Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote the book for the hit musical Xanadu, premiered last year
on off-Broadway, quickly moving on to Broadway where it received a Tony Award nomination for Best
New Play.

Directed with well-paced energy by the theater's artistic director Rob Ruggiero, the ensemble of four
features the cutthroat ambitious Hollywood agent Diane (Candy Buckley) who will go to any means to
get a starring role for her acting client Mitchell (Chad Allen).

Diane is put to the test and bears her razor sharp teeth when the handsome Mitchell crosses the line of
their agreement to stay in the closet and begins to fall in love with Alex (Jeremy), the sexy young male
prostitute he hired for a quickie in his New York hotel room.

Meanwhile Alex, who is also in denial about his sexual orientation, spends evenings with his adorable
girlfriend Ellen (Amanda Perez) rationalizing about his "day" job. That is, until he starts to experience
reciprocal feelings for Mitchell.

A fast-moving well-designed set by Adrian W. Jones takes us into Mitchell's hotel room, which then
recedes into the back of the stage to a thumping rock score and a spotlight is cast on Diane, who
delivers monologues about the developing situation with the gay playwright they're trying to win over.

The tall, red-haired Buckley is well cast as the intimidating, despicable Diane, delivering quick-witted
quips, but she is purely a stereotype and becomes predictable with her constant sarcasm-drenched
responses. It's a shame Beane didn't scratch the surface any deeper and tell us more about Diane's
character than she's a lesbian with no time for a relationship.

The same can be said for Ellen. Why is she in a relationship with a guy she knows is gay and
unavailable? In a funny, endearing monologue, Perez gives us a peak at what makes Ellen tick when
she talks about going home to Westchester to visit her mother, who she calls "the screecher," and
finds her bedroom has been turned into a craft room. But even though she intrigues us, that's about all
we learn of Ellen's past.

The chemistry between Mitchell and Alex, as skillfully portrayed by Allen and Jordan, is intense and
believable, and we feel empathy for their predicament but again, we want to know more about where
they come from come-which is only vaguely alluded to-that has led them to the choices they've made
and the lonely, shutdown places where they both find themselves.

There are some nice twists and mounting tension in the second act and we at least we finally find out
what the name of the play means, even if we're not sure what the play means to us personally, besides
being an enjoyable night out.

The Little Dog Laughed is at Theaterworks, 233 Pearl Street in downtown Hartford through March 9. For
tickets call 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org.

(ran in Shore Publishing Community Newspapers Feb. 13-14)


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