Watford Palace Theatre
Reviewed – 1st February 2019
“Kwaku Mills gives a commendable spirited performance holding the audience in the palm of his hand”
A new production of Arinzé Kene’s hard-hitting yet delicate 2017 play, Good Dog, seems as relevant as ever. Although set in the Noughties and inspired by the 2011 London riots, the themes of frustration and social injustice still ring true. Told in an elongated monologue form, through the eyes of a fast growing teenage boy, a multi-cultural community is seen at breaking point. He witnesses the struggles with crime, poverty, addictions and infidelity that cripples his neighbours. With raging energy and surprising chuckle-out-loud observational humour, this powerful piece of storytelling shows what happens when all hope is lost and life is full of disappointment.
Kwaku Mills gives a commendable spirited performance holding the audience in the palm of his hand single-handedly for over two hours. He moves with dexterity through the different stages of the boy’s life. Transitioning from a naive and opportunistic young teen, to a hardened and disenchanted adult, who finds out the hard way that no good comes from being good in this world.
A large, black, wooden, slatted cube dominates the stage (set design Amelia Jane Hankin), representing such places as the balcony of the boy’s high rise home, the corner shop or train platform that makes up the bleak microcosm. Mills plays and interacts with the cube as if it is another character, becoming an integral partner in the story.
Helen Skiera’s sound design helps to flesh out the performance. The voices of the community the boy observes drips out through the speakers, painting a multi-cultural picture of a down-trodden forgotten pocket of the capital. It was unfortunate that some of this dialogue was missed due to the sound being far too quiet.
Arinzé Kene’s penetrating and quick-witted colloquial writing, feels authentic and tangible. It’s storytelling of the everyday man, for the everyday man. At times it can feel dense and borderline self-indulgent, yet this is a tale that holds an honest mirror up to the world, proving to be a vital piece of theatre. Telling a truth about London life that needs to be witnessed more on stage.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Wasi Daniju
Watford Palace Theatre until 2nd February then touring UK
Previously reviewed at this venue: