Dog & Wolf
BOTTOM LINE: A compelling, unconventional and unique love story.
Jasmina, a political refugee from Bosnia seeks asylum in the U.S. and falls into a relationship with Joseph, the lawyer who is representing her case. Her dark past – the murder of her sister, the danger she is in for the truths she teaches, and those who continue to harass her - unwind as Joseph tries to prepare her for the immigration trial. Things don't go as planned, and Joseph winds up following her back to her homeland, all the time confined to his wheelchair. In the end, what looks like a political-historical play turns out to be a love story.
The play's title refers to the time at dusk when you can't tell in the shadows if you are looking at a dog or a wolf – a friend or a foe – showing one of the play's themes of perception and danger. Catherine Filloux's writing is comical at first, then delves darker into our fears and what drives us to follow our passions, as well as how we protect ourselves.
The play held my attention and kept me wondering how it would all work out; there was a great sense of urgency and danger, well handled by the expert acting by the three member cast.
Nadia Bower's performance as Jasmina, someone who wants to teach, but fears for her life, is quite compelling, and I love her accent for the character. Dale Soules, in her multiple roles, does an excellent job transforming from Judge to Mother to Waitress. The best performance for me is John Daggett's as the physically challenged lawyer. I wasn't sure if I was watching an extremely good actor, or someone who had used a wheelchair for part of their life (given the skill with which he zipped around the stage).
Jean Randich's direction is mostly right on, giving the work a fluid movement and a good brisk pace. The dream sequences could have been made a bit more clear; I found them to be slightly confusing and trying to interpret them took me out of the moment of the play.
Sound, lighting, costume, scenic and video designs are all spot on, especially the well sourced, culturally-appropriate music. I did come away pondering the point of the video projection on the floor – it made for nice texture, but wasn't really bright enough to give a great amount of definition, and given that the floor was not raked, I doubt that much of the audience could see it very well (I barely could from my seat in the second row).
Dog & Wolf has a good universal appeal. Younger audiences can definitely benefit from the historical and cultural threads in the work. It is, all in all, a very enjoyable night of theatre coming from an impressive ensemble; I recommend it.