Advertisement

On Theater: 'Dog' defies logic, but entertains

September 16, 2013|By Tom Titus

You may not be able to fight city hall, but you can holler until you're blue in the face like the inveterate pet cemetery owner in Thomas Strelich's wild and crazy but strangely affecting "Dog Logic," now on stage at the Costa Mesa Playhouse.

Whether all the ranting and raving accomplishes anything is, ultimately, beside the point in this quirky comedic drama, first unveiled at South Coast Repertory a quarter of a century ago. Strelich is taking up the banner of the individual in his quixotic struggle against the forces of commercial progress and urban sprawl.

"Dog Logic," in actuality, is more "dogmatic" in this uneven yet engrossing tale of Hertel, who tends his late father's decaying animal burial ground, which also contains his dad's remains — stored there to pose a legal defense against land grabbers. And they're out there, waiting to pounce on this potential gold mine of a property and turn it into a shopping mall.

Advertisement

Hertel's problems aren't limited to outsiders like the would-be real estate agent who flits like a mosquito around the grounds. His conflicts extend to his ex-wife, a police officer who's duty-bound yet strangely sympathetic, and his mother, who walked out on Hertel and his dad 30 years before and hasn't been in contact with her son since.

The role of the central character, Hertel, is an awesome assignment, here tackled with passion and gusto by Keith Bush, who rides the lightning of Strelich's opus in fits and starts. There is certifiable madness here, certainly, yet Bush strives mightily to convince us there's a true method behind it, one worth fighting tooth and claw for.

Under the meticulous direction of Sharyn Case, Bush crafts and forms the eccentricities of his character into patterns ranging from logical to outrageous, pausing at every stop between these extremities. It's a tremendous accomplishment that succeeds where the script often fails, bringing this troubled character into dynamic focus.

As his law-enforcing ex-wife, Kaye, Carrie Theodossin lends a contrasting note of sanity and reason, pledging her concern for Hertel's welfare but not enough to rekindle the romance. She convincingly represents the audience's link with the outside world, a foreign element in Hertel's ever-spinning universe.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles
|
|
|