Review: Dogs Land

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Take the work of a poetic playwright like Joanne Hartley. Add the work of an eloquent choreographer like Douglas Thorpe.

Throw into the mix slices of narrative-heavy pop songs and you have the elements that might add up to a piece of work that is frankly too much of an assault on the senses. All three of these elements can stand alone and construct a narrative but the concern in several moments of Dogs Land is that they will somehow cancel each other out. They don’t. While the separate elements don’t necessarily combine to become something greater than the sum of their parts, they weave together to create a piece of work where each strand supports the other.

An exploration of two functioning but dysfunctional relationships, Leeds choreographer Douglas Thorpe has created a piece of work that is less visceral than his work on a similar theme for Phoenix Dance, but more eloquent. The complexity of the two relationships on stage – a woman in one relationship is having a torrid affair with a man from another – is impressively played out.

Added to this mix is a deliberately ineloquent barman who Hartley somehow turns into a sort of drunk philosopher with minimal script. A new way of working for both playwright and choreographer, it will be interesting to see if and how the relationship develops.

Stage at Leeds