Catherine and I had a marvelous time at the theatre this past weekend, watching THE COMPOUND DOG by Haynes Brooke. (It’s running for three more weeks at the Eclectic Theatre in L.A. Catch it if you can!)
It is a wild, funny, moving, eccentric piece, played out in the most theatrical of manners, with four actors alternating as narrators, characters, and characters playing characters.
Haynes presents his story as a thesis project for a fictional student (from the San Fernando Valley Life Studies Institute) – a common device in his recent plays. The story is told by the student and faculty – as the student hopes his tale earns him a passing grade.
The wrap-around is very Brechtian, allowing a distancing for the audience; Haynes uses that device to then sneak in under the emotional skin of the audience, making the story all the sweeter.
And all the more resonate.
The themes of grace, lost faith struggling to return, and meaningless meeting meaningful connection play with subtle yet surprising persistence. Which is another sign of Haynes’ craft – the show is presented in the framework of a faux educational piece, convincing the audience that the fluff is pure entertainment with no educational content, all the while carrying deep Truth.
Oh, and be warned: The show is not a musical, per se; but that doesn’t stop one of the characters from breaking out into song and dance. And oddly (an oddity within an odd landscape), it works.
If you want to see what theatre can do that film can’t (and want to be reminded of why theatre will never actually die), head out to THE COMPOUND DOG.
Just my thoughts,