THE DOG, THE NIGHT AND THE KNIFE
by Marius von Mayenburg translated by Maja Zade.
Arcola Theatre (Arcola 2) 24 Ashwin Street Dalston E8 3DL To 18 October 2014.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 September.
Bleakly compelling urban nightmare.
This is the sort of play it’s easy to do badly; far tougher to do with the skill of German playwright Marius von Mayenburg. It shows a sensible citizen lost in a city at night. Not only the physical terrain is featureless; every creature is predatory, driven by a hunger which might be anything on the road from near-starvation to ceaseless acquisitiveness.
Michael Edwards’ upright citizen starts as a hospital inmate and ends looking as though he’ll return to being institutionalised. The frightening world outside might well be too much. The first person he meets, a man walking his dog, isn’t actually walking his dog, merely holding a leash. The animal, whose howls are later heard, has gone to join the encircling wolves.
The dog-owner wants a slice of the action – that is, a slice of M. He wields a big knife. He isn’t the last to do so. But, one gash across the stomach later, it’s the innocent abroad who’s inflicting wounds despite himself.
And situations grow dark as the night around him. Are the identical twin sisters two separate people or a single woman with different personae? Can anyone be trusted? It pays to be cautious. But there are times it’s necessary to trust to people with professional skills, or to the authorities.
Even those can be evaded if need be. But when the matter of trust falls on the one person who might love you, and whom you want to love, it’s a life-or-death decision either way.
In the smaller Arcola space, with just curtains at the back of the stage, concealing figures then whisking aside to reveal them, allowing one identity to change to another and be surprisingly revealed, Oliver Dawe’s production is smooth yet stark, presenting situations without comment, the three actors maintaining the anomie of city people’s chance encounters.
Michael Edwards’ M walks with a puzzled innocence that remains surprised when necessarily wielding the knife, Stephen Ventura has the blankness of violence forced by survival while Beth Park presents the enigma of what’s possibly love in a society where violence is the general underlay.
Cast: M: Michael Edwards.
Other characters: Beth Park, Stephen Ventura.
Director: Oliver Dawe.
Designer/Costume: Louie Whitemore.
Lighting: Jason Taylor.
Sound/Composer: Helen Skiera.
Movement: Jane Gibson.
Fight consultant: Sophie Angelson.
Prosthetics: Joanna Cristou.