Reviewed by Trish Francis
Mutts is a delightful story of eight mongrels, impounded in a refuge, hoping to once again be part of a loving home and family before their time runs out and they meet an infinitely less appealing fate. The original script by Johnny Grim features nine dogs and is nearly twice as long as the adaptation we are presented with for this Fringe season.
You may think that a play that focuses entirely on the thoughts and behaviours of dogs would provide limited entertainment but how wrong you would be! Grim has created strong characters which are easy to relate to, with variations in age, nature and background stories. In this production director Tony Moore uses clothes to great effect, further emphasising the individual characteristics. Anyone who has ever owned a dog can readily relate to the behaviours exhibited by the ‘animals’ and the dialogue puts a voice to what we all imagine these unfortunate pets would be thinking and feeling in such a desperate situation.
There are some fabulous performances from the cast. Brian Godfrey as Titan and Joanna Webb as Jude are stand outs. The scene where Titan and Jude share with each other their accounts of the passing of their owners is particularly poignant. Webb’s emotional outburst as her closest ally is finally taken for “the long walk”, is harrowing and extremely powerful.
Maxine Grubel plays the outspoken and domineering Socks with aplomb. A difficult and wordy role Grubel’s portrayal has the audience swaying from sympathy to humour to annoyance and at times we are left wanting to scold him. Jabez Retallick, plays Red, a cattle dog who is afraid of cows, with the perfect degree of subtlety and quiet inquisitiveness as he tries to make sense of his new surroundings.
All the actors were fully immersed in their characters and eminently convincing. Dog lover or not you cannot fail to be engaged. This reviewer left feeling thoroughly entertained, wanting more, and trying very hard to resist the urge to contact the local pound tomorrow to inquire about rescuing an unfortunate Mutt.