Monday, 27 May 2019

REVIEW: Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) at the Lyric Hammersmith

Carl Grose’s Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love stories) demonstrates the corruption in politics; the mayor is murdered by a hitman and the tale unfurls to catch the killer, with diversions of love and bribes. It stems from the urban myth of a dead dog being crammed into a suitcase (for whatever unfortunate reason) and being stolen by a stranger on the journey; this is cleverly weaved into the plot with several twists and turns of fate. The story is complex and multi-faceted, told through drama, spoken word and music, with unfriendly appearances from Punch and JudyOver the two and a half hours, you will experience shock, nausea, shivers down your spine and be overwhelmed with the creativity Kneehigh incorporate into their shows. 

The first thing you see upon entry to the auditorium is the brilliant set. Mike Vale’s design adds levels and intricate ways to move around the space; it’s a real spectacle. The costumes depict each character perfectly and, although fairly modern, make it difficult to pinpoint which era the show is in. It’s a timeless storyline, so could be anywhere from the 1980’s to even a futuristic setting. Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth has done a stunning job of capturing each scene and location, I hugely admired his work.

Mike Shepherd’s direction ensures each character is strong and memorable, yet are in no way a caricature or stereotype. The acting in Dead Dog is incredibly stylised, almost a Sondheim level of dramatic. This worked in the majority of the performance but tended to seem over-acted in the lighter scenes. Dominic Marsh as hitman Macheath came across quite forced with too much of a ‘cockney geezer’-vibe as opposed the sinister, soulless murderer he really is. 

Mrs Peachum and her gravity-defying hair, played by Rina Fatania, was particularly hilarious and terrifying. Alongside her daughter, Polly (Angela Hardie), who stunned the audience with her operatic killer vocals and character turn in the second act. This was particularly commendable. Georgia Frost- the newest addition to the cast- as Filch and Terry was a joy to watch and listen to. Charles Hazlewood has composed a fantastic number of songs performed by talented actor-musicians.

To summarise, the creative direction is out of this world. The combination of music, puppetry (directed excellently by Sarah Wright) and design form an exceptional production. If I watched this several times over I am certain I would notice new things onstage every single time. The final scene is remarkably powerful (kudos to Patrycja Kujawska) and will leave the audience shaken to their core. Well worth seeing. 

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls K12 | Price of Ticket: £32
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