Animal Engine (New York City), a past winner of the Cincinnati Fringe Artist’s Award, lets its latest production, Dog Show, off the leash at the Know Theatre. The comedy onstage for this show is fizzy, broad, fast, cheap and unchallenging. I expect many will love it.
The three company members (Becca Bernard, Carrie Brown and Karim Muasher) open the show by portraying a trio of dogs left in the basement while their master is away. They quickly exhibit human characteristics, including the ability to stand, and decide that to pass the time they will enact one of the plays from a box of scripts. They choose a French-styled farce called Bon(e) Anniversaire (Fido meets Feydeau) and proceed to act out the comedy of manners with each pooch playing multiple roles and essentially making a hash of it.
All three performers are seriously capable of commanding the stage, but the material here is fairly light. It often feels like they are working overtime to keep this feathery vehicle afloat. I have to confess that I’m not a big fan of plays about people putting on plays — even if they are doggedly determined to do it as dogs. The script and the stage business here go for the easy laughs, and the audience I sat with gave it to them — easily.
Dog Show is, in essence, the theatrical equivalent of a puppy: It runs around a lot, plays cute and begs eagerly to be loved. I wasn’t totally game for it — but then I’m more of a cat person.
Nicholas Korn is a playwright whose work has been produced in New York City, Chicago and Cincinnati. His stage comedy, Delirium’s Daughters, recently played Off-Off Broadway at New York’s Theatre Row Studio Theatre in February 2015.