THE ARTS ETC
NEW STAGE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
55 North Street . Pittsfield MA 01201
FOUR DOGS AND A BONE
AUGUST 3 - 21, 2001
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Andrew Volkoff
CAUTION: STRONG LANGUAGE ALERT
REVIEWED BY DEBRA TINKHAM
“Four Dogs and a Bone,” by John Patrick Shanley, directed by Andrew Volkoff, now running at the lovely Berkshire Actors Theatre in Pittsfield MA, was a new venue for this reviewer. This must-see show is about a play and the need to cut scenes, actors and budget.
Volkoff stated, “…Four Dogs and a Bone certainly serves up its share of affection for the less attractive foibles of the human animal in their plastic, manufactured habitat. A play about good old-fashioned show biz backstabbing, Four Dogs and a Bone mines bad behavior for all the comedy it can. And with the popularity of reality television, I imagine we all enjoy watching people behave badly – more than we may actually care to admit…”
The play opens in Bradley’s (Daniel Popowich) office with Brenda (Clover Bell-Devaney) and Bradley sarcastically discussing the need to cut scenes, thus eliminating much of Collette’s (Deann Simmons Halper) role.
Suddenly there is a caustic, putrefying stench permeating the office, only to be explained by Bradley that he has a rancid shrimp-sized growth on his rectum. Brenda offers to treat the area of concern while adding that she will be more than willing to assist with the editing out of Collette. She then gets in her licks that the character, Johnny (a character we learn nothing about) should live. Bradley feels Johnny should die.
If we picked a breed of dog for each character, Brenda could play a tart Springer Spaniel and Bradley would howl as a sweet, old mangy mutt.
Collette (Deann Simmons Halper) is sitting in a bar, when Victor (Michael J. Foster) walks in. He was expecting to see Brenda, but Collette has caustically intervened, thus putting the two of them together. Victor vowed his affection for Brenda and accused Collette of wanting to suck a certain part of his anatomy – over and over again. Collette volunteers to take care of his anatomy if it will assist in eliminating Brenda from his brain. After major “sucking” conversation, and major boozing by Victor, they agree to agree on nothing. He wants Brenda because his mother died and he didn’t want Collette to be the first to know. Victor exits, leaving Collette to plot the demise of Brenda and the furthering of her own career.
Now, Brenda and Collette are in their dressing room, slinging insults towards each other. Collette confesses her prank of luring Victor to the bar the night before and, oh, by the way, his mother died. They reconfirm their dislikes for each other and Collette ( a mixed pitt bull/Chihuahua breed), slanders Bradley, Victor and Brenda in only a few breaths.
Later, back at the office, the cast of four are gathered together and suddenly Bradley’s shrimp-sized growth is now puss filled, itching, irritating and the size of a large crustacean. His soiled bandages are in the trash bucket and Collette is heaving. Brenda, once again, offers to assist Bradley in the care of his malady. Collette is pushed to the brink and rips Brenda’s wig off. They cat fight and Bradley reminds them that his mother died. Well, Victor now wants Johnnie to die at the end of the play and Bradley quickly forgets his mother’s death, also wanting Johnnie to die.
The dialogue was clever and very fast paced, with self analogies and slinging insults throughout. The play ran 80 minutes and seemed to end as abruptly as it began.
Starring: Clover Bell-Devaney, Michael Foster, Deann Simmons Halper, and Daniel Popowich
One floundering film, four inflated egos, and enough secret alliances to make Survivor look like child’s play, Four Dogs and a Bone is a hilarious dark comedy about the insanity of show business.
Hollywood abhors a power vacuum, and when the cast and crew of a new movie sense weakness in their director, they pounce on the opportunity to steer the film in their favor. Using emotional blackmail, sexual dalliances, and plain old power plays, these characters aren’t afraid to stoop to any level to get what they want.
There’s Brenda, the deceptively daffy starlet who spends hours each day chanting mysteriously in a corner. Bradley, the embattled producer hellbent on cutting costs (at whatever the cost) in order to keep his film under budget. Collette, the jaded actress whose bottomless capacity for insults is exceeded only by her infinite well of insecurities. And Victor, the hapless, exasperated screenwriter whose artistic vision seems to be taking on water faster than the Titanic.
Tickets are $25, with a special discount rate of $15 for preview performances on
Wednesday, August 3 and Thursday, August 4.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 413-347-9849 or visiting www.berkshireactorstheatre.org.
They will also be available at the box office before each show, depending upon availability.
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