White Bear Theatre
Reviewed – 1st November 2018
“There are some side-splitting one-liners in this play, as well as some hard-hitting ones too”
Hugo wants to kill himself, but he doesn’t necessarily want to die. Schrödinger’s Dog is a dark comedy about male suicide. It follows a young man’s chaotic night as he tries to make some difficult decisions. What ensues is a sequence of hilarious events that are just about fantastic enough to be believable. Hugo (Monty Jones) reaches out to unhelpful friends and unsuspecting strangers, from Chucks (Aaron Phinehas Peters), the pizza delivery boy to Barbara (Lindsey-Anne Barnes) from the call centre. There is hysteria, there is an accidental kidnapping, there is despair and there are moments of true kindness.
Actor and writer Monty Jones has perfect comedic timing. His portrayal of Hugo as a simultaneously charismatic and narcissistic young man carries an incredible vulnerability and humour. Equally, Aaron Phinehas Peters’ performance of Chucks is focused, an amiable and calm presence to Hugo’s unravelling. Their initial conversation kindles a friendship and is among the most touching and uproarious scenes in the play.
Director Dom Riley manages to turn The White Bear’s small and flexible stage into a space of intimacy and claustrophobia. With some well chosen, and often ironic, chart toppers added to the mix, Hugo’s flat feels like a space in which anything could happen. As the gathering of strangers increases, however, there is a feeling that the stage is about to burst. There are nine actors in this play. Though they are all in tune with one another, the sheer number of people on stage does detract from the most poignant points in the play. Some of the tenderest moments are skipped a little too quickly. And then, of course, there is Schrödinger’s Dog, which, despite being the title, seems like the least important part of Hugo’s night.
This is the work of a young and promising theatre company, Break the Verse. It has set out a distinctive LGBTQ agenda, and, in that respect, hits the mark. There is a brilliant subplot with Simon and Nick, a couple in the midst of their own problems. It is so refreshing to see members of the LGBTQ community who are written and performed as fully fleshed out characters and not there to just drive the plot.
There are some side-splitting one-liners in this play, as well as some hard-hitting ones too. Monty Jones’ writing bears resemblance to the wit and absurdity of Almodovar’s Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown. Though the chaos may get a little out of hand, at no point does the play make light of pain or sadness. Instead, it inspects the unbearable lightness with which depression can be treated or misunderstood. ‘I don’t feel how I’m supposed to feel,’ Hugo tries to explain. But Hugo reminds us how hard it is to talk about depression, particularly to those who haven’t the tools to listen. Schrödinger’s Dog’s comedic value is not in making fun of something serious, but in looking at the ludicrously funny things we do when we at the end of our tether.
Reviewed by Tatjana Damjanovic
Photography courtesy Break the Verse
White Bear Theatre until 3rd November
Previously reviewed at this venue: