The idea that dogs (so-called trauma dogs, in particular, but any of your furry companions) need to be ubiquitously present in everyone’s life seems to have taken a turn for the worse.
|“Dog Silhouette 01” by Amada44 – Own work. Licensed under
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –
The theater has gone to the dogs!
Emotional support animals (ESAs) and service dogs (let Patricia Marx define the difference in her excellent New Yorker article, Pig On A Plane) occupy the best seats in the house.
Not content with being upfront, some of them distract by barking at the actors, as they did at the Women’s Project for a show called “Row After Row.” (More on this performance here on this blog at http://tbontheaisleatheaterdiary.blogspot.com/2014/01/row-after-row-is-billed-as-dark-comedy.html.)
Some “trauma dogs” scratch themselves during a performance, or demand petting from their disinterested (in the play at any rate) owners.
Their presence in the audience is mostly to satisfy some perverse demands of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and may be utterly spurious.
It is most definitely annoying to this theater-goer and her spouse. How do you feel about sharing the theater with four-footed critters?
|“Tan ferret named cincin” by Kerri Love – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tan_ferret_named_cincin.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Tan_ferret_named_cincin.JPG|
Before you answer, note that the ferret pictured above may also qualify for categorization as a “trauma” or emotional support pet.
If the pet owners are in need of emotional support, perhaps they should bring their psychiatrists to the show. The interval would be a perfect time to hold a mini-therapy session.
|By Sallicio (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
The Civil War was about a lot of things.
It was not primarily about equaility as Jessica Dickey seems to suggest in “Row After Row,” a Women’s Project Theatre production at City Center’s Stage II through February 16th. Mostly the war between the states was a horrific slaughter, made more awful because it pitted a once united people against each other.
It’s hard to say what motivates anyone to want to re-enact these battles. In “Row After Row,” the motives vary. Tom (Erik Lochtefeld) is a history teacher/nerd/buff. He and Cal (PJ Sosko) are both Gettysburg natives. Leah (Rosie Benton) is new in town and thought this might be a way to get to meet.
Clearly, it’s an intense experience for all three of the protagonists.
As directed by Daniella Topol, “Row After Row,” transitions smoothly but jarringly from the present day back to the scene of the battle in 1863. Clint Ramos’ costumes and sets — the scenery is strictly minimalist– with a mostly bare stage edged all around by fallen timbers– are arresting. The stage design plays more towards the tragic, however, while the text is a sloppy mix of romance, comedy and pagentry.
Rosie Benton has exhibited charm in roles at the Mint Theatre and Broadway’s “Stick Fly” in the past several years. Here she can’t help but be affable even when she’s cornered into gratuitous silliness about “history” being “his story.” That is not to say she doesn’t embody called for fiereceness as Leah. Erik Lochtefeld is a wimpy and harrowed intellectual. His Tom dithers and vacilates, telling a truth about the uneven sweep of history. PJ Sosko’s Cal, on the other hand, is a doer. His sensitive good old boy with a platinum heart is compelling. “I did not see that coming,” Leah says when he waxes sophisticate.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the talent in “Row After Row,” the play is an unsatisfying work. It’s neither fish nor fowl, as drama and tragedy lurk in the Civil War flashbacks, while touches of “meet cute” infect the post reenactment drinks at the tavern.
The distraction of having “trauma dogs” in the first row, practically participating in the play’s proceedings, is unhelpful to the play’s cause.