Four Dogs and a Bone

Hamilton Gardens, American Modernist Garden, Hamilton

24/02/2012 - 01/03/2012

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

Written by John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Michael Switzer

Flirting, bitching and dirty tricks – all in a day’s work when you’re making a movie. “The film is in trouble – the director is weak.” The producer, writer, leading lady and starlet – nobody cares who gets screwed as long as they come out top dog. 

A sharply-written Hollywood satire from the team that brought you The Miser of Mystery Creek & King Lear.

Starring Stuart Devenie, Charlotte Isaac, Andy Kaye and Larissa Allen.

Contains swearing.

American Modernist Garden, Hamilton Gardens

27 February 2012, 8:00pm
28 February 2012, 8:00pm
29 February 2012, 8:00pm
1 March 2012, 8:00pm 

Adult: $28.00 Concession: $18.00 Ticketek  

The brutal sophistication of Tinsel Town

Review by Gail Pittaway 28th Feb 2012

Full House productions have been building a repertoire and an audience in Hamilton, and in this their first production for the year and at the outdoor venues of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival they move from last year’s Moliere to the slightly more risky and risqué movie world, but stay in the realm of satire.

John Patrick Stanley’s short, sharp and plain nasty four-hander looks at the soured humanity and warped realism that make for survival of the nastiest inTinselTown.

Un-licked bears, according top Hollywood movie producer, Bradley (played superbly by Stuart Devenie), is what the glitz and glamour of show biz is really all about; they’re all bears who were neglected at birth. There are plenty of other animal images in the play and some more Darwinian behaviour on display as well, especially of female dogs, but somehow the un-licked bear is an enduring and apt motif.

There’s Brenda, the up and coming vapid starlet played with suitably grating squeak by Larissa Allen. Just when her character seems too dumb to be true she gives some well-paced comeback lines.

Her rival is Collette, whose time as an ingénue is expired. She knows she is destined for a sad future as a character actress unless she can wring out more of the action for her character in the nameless movie being shot. Charlotte Isaac gives a great reading of this part, cutting deals, calling bluffs, willing to go all the way to secure her position, but knowing that Brenda’s youth and emptiness is her greatest threat.

Then there’s Victor the writer, in Andrew Kaye’s hands a sorry figure indeed, preyed upon by the women to build up their roles, and nagged at by the produce to make cuts and save money.

But outdoing them all in profanity, tension and ruthlessness is Bradley, the most un-licked bear of all. Nursing a literal pain in the behind, and a diminishing budget out front, he is cursed with knowing the emptiness of the celluloid world while being trapped within it. The casting of Devenie in this Aristophanic tragic-comic role is inspired and continues a relationship between him and the Full House company that is now several years and productions old.

Michael Switzer’s cleverly two-dimensional properties and sets add to the laughs, and the social commentary, while contrasting strongly with the colourfully lit trees and outdoor setting. The performance uses the already existing garden design perfectly, even to the point of having water streaming down the famous Marilyn Monroe mural, when rain has stopped outdoor filming and is costing the production more money. 

The costumes, particularly for the women, are suitably glamorous, and each short scene break is accompanied by swelling movie music, ending, appropriately enough, with the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Switzer’s direction of this sophisticated and brutal comedy is sure and well paced.


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