Sleeping Dogs

by

Brenda Gottsche

Cast & Crew
Pamela Rome; James Belfrage; Elizabeth McLean;
Neil Modra; Haley Sewell; Debbie Nielson;

Taylor Allen - Lighting
Set and costume design by Hecate
Roz Riley - Director.

Sleeping Dogs   photographed by John Reeves

Review by Wendy Lewis

Sleeping Dogs. Sunday Oct7th. General Admission
We know there’s a funeral. And we think we know who’s dead. Or do we? Act II begins and there’s that funeral again. As things start heating up, we begin to wonder if anyone is dead at all. It could all be a lie...
Welcome to the wonderful world of Sleeping Dogs, where falsehood rules. Big lies, small lies, all kinds of lies. It’s intriguing, it’s disturbing. And it’s fascinating to watch the lies swirling around the small cast of well-drawn characters.
Dr Roz is the lynchpin, in a beautiful role played with grace and nuance. She has not been lying to anyone, although she might just admit she’s a bit of a fraud...she uses the title ‘Dr’ even though she’s not medically trained. She berates herself for not picking up on the lies all around her because, after all, it’s her job as a celebrity therapist to understand human behaviour. And hasn’t she failed miserably? With her own husband. And her own daughter, as it happens. Her veneer only breaks once in a scene where she shoves all her books at her hapless hubby. But it feels like it could be much nastier.
Her friend Anna is wickedly played with the nice restraint of a professional medico who’s heard it all before. She’s great fun, a pill-popping pscyhiatrist blithely conducting unethical experiments. Dr Roz’s husband Leo confides in Anna, but not in his wife. Again, we are told just a little, never enough. Is he telling the truth? A bit of the truth? Or is it all fabrication?
Leo is the enigma. He has all the signs of respectability but there is something weak and cowardly about him. Is he capable of the violent past that’s suggested? It seems unlikely. Will violence erupt between him and his ‘mate’ Andy? Sadly not. But most importantly, will he write his sequel?
Andy has a malevolent edge when we first meet him that gradually filters down. Ultimately, he may be the most trustworthy of all the characters, although there is still the lingering question of his wife. Does he really have a wife? And does she need a hip operation? Or a back operation? Or does he just want money?
Alex gives an outstanding performance as the feisty daughter with a secret of her own. She is forthright and strong, a young adult but still a vulnerable child. Is she being taken advantage of by the oft-mentioned Mark? Or is she mature enough to stand on her own two boot-clad feet? Again, w e are left to suspect...
This is a cleverly-plotted tale of deception and trust. The direction works well with each character having their own ‘turf’, and only leaving their space to do battle and then retreat. The opening of the first and second acts are a gem. There’s much humour from Dr Roz’s radio regulars although sometimes this holds up the action. The first Act seemed a little too measured. It could be pacier but that will no doubt come as the season progresses. The confrontation, and there’s a lot of it, is always quite controlled. It would have been nice to see more biffo, or shouting, or something. ,br> And finally, the sweet little Judy Garland look-alike had a truly menacing presence – wouldn’t like to bump into her in Kansas!
All up, a highly entertaining play that leaves us wondering, which is what all good theatre should do. Wondering about relationships, friendships, vulnerability. And rabbit shooting. Feral rabbits? In Australia definitely. But, England?!