By Abbie Gallagher
To properly review The Dog, The Night and the Knife, one must be blunt about the story. A protagonist, known only a ‘M’, finds himself trapped in a mysterious, dystopian world. He doesn’t know where he is, how he got there or how to get out. Every person he encounters is trying to eat him. Oh, and you know how mortally wounded characters somehow always manage to make a big speech as they die? This takes it to a whole new level.
Marius von Mayenburg’s 2010 play The Dog, The Night and The Knife is a difficult piece to perform and even more difficult to write about. It’s reminiscent of 1990’s British ‘in-yer-face’ theatre with the hallmarks of absurdism, but even Waiting for Godot is more logical than anything you’ll see here. There’s no real answers given. You’re just witnessing a grotesque world, with no rules and no structure. Strange, threatening characters come and go, and our protagonist becomes more disoriented and lost every passing moment.
The most striking aspect as the audience enters the performance space is the blinding whiteness of the stage. As the show opens, the stark surroundings contrast the horror being performed. It is truly the acting that is the star attraction here. With copious amounts of tension, deadpan delivery and more stabbings than your average teen slasher film, this play is not for the faint of heart.
If not carefully constructed and guided, this play could easily be unwatchable. All three actors (Tom Crotty, Samantha Lambert and Thomas Burt) give riveting performances, the latter two playing multiple characters with very clear personalities. They are supported by great direction from Eugene Lynch, resulting in a performance that makes no sense and total sense at the same time.
If you enjoy three act shows with a neatly wrapped conclusion, this isn't for you. If you don't enjoy disturbing imagery and violence this also isn't for you. If you enjoy macabre outhouse drama sprinkled with black comedy, then definitely check this one out.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.