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Hunters Hill Theatre: The Dogs Logs' - Review by Jordan Anderson

What could be better than watching a handful of adorable dogs running around and playing on a theatre stage? Well, I guess it’s not quite better than that, but a close second is watching Hunters Hill Theatre’s production of ‘The Dog Logs’. A show that literally embodies the ‘ruff’ lives of our closest canine friends and the hidden trials and tribulations that go on behind those drool covered whiskers.

Hunters Hill Theatre has assembled four fine actors to portray 16 of our favourite and cutest dog breeds for a night of laughs, tears and maybe 1 or 2 humped legs. As we’re led on a walk through a metaphorical dog park, we meet a whole cast of characters; From the excitable and mischievous Jack Russell Terrier to the nurturing motherly nature of a Golden Retriever and to the ever-shifting camaraderie between 2 mongrels in an outback town. Director Maggie Scott has had her work cut out for her creating these very different characters, but it’s clear that she was not barking up the wrong tree with this casting, and with a few thrown in technical effects, she was ‘pawsitively' successful.

Anthony Slaven provides the manic energy of the cast, throwing himself fully into the roles of the Jack Russell Terrier, Greyhound and Kelpie. Yet he brings a more nuanced and stoic performance in his role as the Belgian Shepherd, a Police Dog, showcasing he really is a dog that can do it all. Anthony has a particularly hard job being the only actor that really interacts with the audience, a job that can be particularly ruff. But thankfully he wasn’t barking up the wrong tree and was more than capable of whipping the audience into a howling frenzy.

Kirit Chaudhary had a huge range of characters to play, going from a proud but aggressive Rottweiler, a flea chewing mongrel and the cool gangster Pitbull. Easily transforming between the roles. Therefore, it was easy to see the passion and talent Kirit has, truly an actor that can’t be collared. A particular highlight for me was the simple yet effective Munga the Dingo that was hilarious in its simplicity.

Ross Alexander was very well cast for his 3 dogs, playing a self-assured Afghan Hound, the pining-for-love Mongrel and an ageing Labrador who just wants to be with his friend. He brings a wonderful vulnerability to all his performances and as a veteran of the stage he knows how to wrap an audience around finger and turn on those puppy eyes.

Finally, Brooke Davidson was a particular highlight for me. Effortlessly going between different accents, utilising excellent comedic timing and moments of true heart and loss. My favourite monologue of the night was her as the Kiwi border control Beagle, Sherlock with a classic Kiwi comedy and a fierce pride for her work. Not content to sit on her haunches, Brooke shows us she’s not one to just roll over and simply begs for all the attention as both the Chihuahua and Toy Poodle.

Another part of the show that I really enjoyed was the music selection between each scene, Wayne Chee, who was in charge of most of the technical aspects of the show, did an excellent job with creating a vibe that really helped channel the chaotic and unpredictable nature of dogs. Not only that but the projection elements added an easy reference of each dog, even for an audience that may not as be familiar with the different breeds.

Overall, this was an enjoyable night at the theatre in a production that didn’t take itself too seriously and allowed everyone to have fun. I give this show a solid 3 barks up the right tree.

Photos courtesy of Dan Ferris

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