…and the dog is on stage.
It’s not that the actors aren’t appealing or talented in Woof Woof, currently playing at Theatre Asylum (Asylum Lab) 6320 Santa Monica Blvd They very much are. In fact, when actor Brett Donaldson walked on stage, I got excited. There was promise in his opening delivery. And it’s not like there isn’t an important heartfelt story to tell. There is; and it’s hiding out somewhere within the text.
But the biggest problem I had with this show, aside from the lack of symmetry in the writing, and it’s harsh to say, but it really needs to be said, is that it would be nice to see some actual stage drama instead of surface TV acting here.
What began as an energetic opening, fizzles very quickly into one ginormous slice of life couch surf with two rather bored-with-themselves, ordinary guys, a tech geek and a Wall Streeter, mildly hung up on ordinary things, until an unexpected visitor rings the downstairs buzzer. Video games, girl bashing, and bullshitting…ok, we got it…and no problem…with any of it. But for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what the story was about, even when they arrived at the heart of it.
The entire affair has been sprouted from the friendship of two grade school boys from Philly, who once kill a mean dog owned by a dying old lady with cancer and who connect and stay connected for various phases of their lives, through the two words that commemorate the event, “Woof Woof.”
This special code is the glue that holds their friendship together through years of completely separate lives and careers. One is now a game coder living in New York City, the other a military vet, just released from service, who has done eight years and two tours of duty in Iraq. The third man, a roommate and friend of the coder, on this night, finds himself suddenly the outsider (and for more than one reason as we eventually discover).
In real life it is not preposterous at all, that this mildly gruesome act keeps these two tied together, and loyal for so many years. Where friendships are concerned, there are so many untold secrets, unspoken loves and likes, and things that make sense to no one on the outside, that have deep meaning to those involved. But the audience is not given enough of a reason to believe it.
There simply isn’t enough of a heightened reality, a pull to the heart, an appeal to the psychology of the characters or a sense of urgency with this piece which has far more potential than is being showcased here. There is lack of strong direction and often I could not hear the dialog. Woof Woof needs a step-up, and lot more emotional investment by the actors themselves.
Woof Woof has the makings of a better story. It’s not being told well.
Running time is 1 hour.