I opened The Washington Post today and found Peter Marks’ glowing review of The Dog in the Manger and thought “yep, yep, yes, yes! Exactly right!” Then I thought “shit, what’s left for me to say?”
Who are we kidding? Of course I can still find something to say.
Seriously – while I don’t agree with Marks across the board, I do agree with him on the big points: the show is great and worth your time. The translation is so well done that this 500 year old play has dialog that feels fresh while still being from its own time. David Turner is fan-freaking-tastic and riotously funny. The show’s a winner and you should go see it.
So what else? I’m not as thrilled with Michael Hayden’s Teodoro as he is, but he fills the role well enough. Maybe that’s just my feelings about the character, a man who is almost exclusively reactive through the whole piece. It’s probably the one problem the excellent translation simply couldn’t address and the one thing that’s going to be a little odd for modern audiences. There’s not a hint that Teodoro has ever thought of Diana romantically before he catches her eye and she starts to drop anvil-like hints on his head, yet it completely derails his existing relationship. It’s not an insurmountable problem but it doesn’t give Hayden a lot of room to excel.
Did I mention David Turner? He warrants several mentions. He gets to bound about and pull down the biggest laughs in the show with lines both over the top insane and quietly droll but never chews the scenery. If everything else was poor, the show would still be worth attending just to watch him.
The show’s build-out is great too. WSC always puts a lot of money up on the stage and the sets always look good, so we expect that from them. The set here is similarly well done and nicely allows us partial view of characters who are supposed to be somewhat removed from the action but still nearby. When Tristan overhears Diana speak about him we’re not called upon to suspend disbelief and pretend that someone standing out clear as day – who we can see perfectly – somehow is completely hidden from her view. It’s a nice blend of style and realism and director Jonathan Munby blends the action with it well.
David Turner is great.
I defy anyone to not enjoy this show. If you’re a theater fan who has trouble getting some of your loved ones to join you at live performances, this is the show to drag them to. It’s brisk and fun and funny, and David Turner is a blast.
The Dog in the Manger, Feb 10 through Mar 29
Shakespeare Theatre Company, Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004