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Review: Good Dog at the Kings Cross Theatre

By Liam Shand Egan

Green Door Theatre Company’s latest show broke my heart. ‘Good Dog’ is a story of a young man as he grows up in the turbulent environment of Tottenham and all of the characters that he loves, hates and spends his life with. Any fans of Plan B’s ‘ill Manors’ are going to love this show. The tone of this show is spot on. There is an honest acceptance for the world The Boy inhabits as he looks out over his council estate balcony. The characters are genuine and real; from the charming alcoholic Old Man Boateng to the naive-turned-vengeful Mrs Blackwood, and they all have stories as interesting as our protagonist. Quite honestly, Arinze Kene’s play is a masterpiece of character creation and perspectives and I would watch each story told throughout this play for another 2 and a half hours. All of the characters have a charm and life to them that draws you into the world being created on stage. Director Rachel Chant and actor Justin Amankwah have really done the original vision for this show proud and the intense subject matter is handled with care. This piece has a lot of hopelessness in it. It is about people losing the thing that made them happy and then having to go on. However, betrayal, violence and poverty are not used in this show as the end result, but rather a base that hope can spring from. Our protagonist is remarkably resilient (as some from that upbringing are) and takes all the challenges of his life in stride. The most heartbreaking part of the show is at the halfway mark when our protagonist has a moment of clarity: the good guy doesn’t always win. It is a lesson that we all learn and I don’t think I’ve seen this moment depicted quite as well as how Amankwah performed it. Again, there is a lot of hopelessness in this show, but makes the next emotional with anger instead of resignation and despair. That anger is loud, its chaotic but eventually gives way to action and forward motion. The show is a series of stories that will rip your heart out depending on where you are in your life: as a parent, as a grandparent, a parent, a child or as a person outside of it all. Chant and Amankwah took great care in telling this story and they succeeded spectacularly. Lighting and sound design by Kelsey Lee and Melanie Herbert are both subtle but makes an otherwise unfinished set appear vibrant (or as vibrant as grey concrete can be). It was a wise decision by the production team to keep the stage bare and really allows Amankwah to dominate the minds of our audience A busier set would have pulled attention away from his performance and by focusing in on the core of the show; the story, they were rewarded. I cannot recommend this show enough. Beyond the clear theatrical proficiency of Green Door Theatre Company’s work there is an deep well of anger, frustration and love they have tapped into and I am very glad I got the chance to see this show while I could. I cannot praise the talent of Justin Amankwah enough and will buy a seat to any show he is in from now on. The message of the show is clear: things are bad but if you never do anything to change it, it will stay bad. It’s a lesson we need to hear more and more and thank you very much to this production team for saying it so beautifully.  ‘Good Dog’ is playing at the Kings Cross Theatre till Saturday November 16th

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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