nytheatre.com review by Amy Lerner
August 17, 2007
Good old-fashioned romantic comedy is hard to come by these days, especially one as twisted as Jess Barbagallo's Grey-Eyed Dogs. More than just a play, Grey-Eyed Dogs is a madcap adventure of a boy named Sheep trying to find her way home.
Yes, I did write that the character's name is Sheep, and identified Sheep as a boy and girl in the same sentence. That is just a small example of the delightful humor of Grey-Eyed Dogs. From the warm opening too fun to spoil, Barbagallo has created a world like any other, where people laugh, fight, have sex, drink, are named after animals, give each other gynecological examinations, and occasionally burst into song.
The play is gleefully directed by Katie Brook, who milks each moment of insanity with fervor. She expertly draws the line between simple homage to an old-fashioned style of comedy and manic, over-the-top hilarity. The stage bursts with life from beginning to end, creating an engaging, highly theatrical experience.
But Brook is not the only one who can be credited with the sheer fun that is Grey-Eyed Dogs. The expert cast also makes this a worthy play. Chris J. Giarmo as Sheep's roommate Clive presents a delightfully shy character to its deepest potential. Gabriel Nussbaum as Clive's lover Grady is so understated that he is almost invisible, which makes for quite a humorous performance.
The women in Grey-Eyed Dogs are equally hilarious as the men. Laryssa Husiak as Sheep's jilted lover Vivian is consistently bitter and angry, and doesn't get to shine as much as her fellow cast members until her prolonged karaoke number, complete with mood lighting and simulated masturbation. Paige Colette as Sheep's lover Fish gets the opportunity to be sexy as well as downright ridiculous, and is fun to watch onstage.
The actress who comes across best in the ensemble is Barbagallo, who has written herself a role that she plays with reckless abandon and relaxation. As Sheep, the girl who desperately wants to pass as a boy, Barbagallo is a sprite-like wild child who you cannot keep under control, nor would you like to try. It is a quality that is immensely likable, and makes a compelling center for the play.
What makes Grey-Eyed Dogs so fun is its fearlessness. The actors, the direction, the chaotic set, and the delightfully fun sound design all contribute to make this completely in-your-face theatre. theRedTerrorSquad is completely unafraid to be overtly sexual, alcoholic, or unintelligible. Rather, they wear their hearts on their sleeves, and while you may not always understand where the ideas are coming from, they will never bore you. Grey-Eyed Dogs is a warm and fuzzy play for the next generation, a consistently fun exploration of homosexuality in contemporary times.