The Little Dog Laughed

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

24/10/2008 - 15/11/2008

Production Details


Silo Theatre presents the NZ Premiere of Douglas Carter Beane’s THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED 

The seedy underbelly of the A-List lifestyle and the dirty little secrets that dog the mighty celebrity are exposed when The Little Dog Laughed takes the spotlight in all its naked glory, at the Herald Theatre from October 24. 


Mitchell Green is a movie star on the rise.
Men want to be him. Women want to bed him.
He’s got ambition to burn and looks to kill.
And a teensy-weensy problem.
A cute little rent boy has got into his pants and under his skin.
And now he wants to come out and play.

Diane is a Tinseltown super-agent who appears to have no soul.
But she’s highly evolved and always has her eye on the prize.
And determined to keep her #1 client playing it straight at any cost.

Will there be a happy ending as the final credits roll?

Tabloid gossip, man-on-man action and champagne whiplash.
This is a ridiculously funny take on fame and its discontents.
Indulge your obsession with celebrity. 

Though many of us mock the voyeuristic nature of exposés and gossip columns, deep down we still nurture this morbid fascination with the private lives of celebrities – a concept that Douglas Carter Beane liberally embraces with nods to a certain "Top Gun" of the Hollywood A-List circuit.

Acerbic, cynical, sexy and voyeuristic, the scandalous and sensational hit of last year’s Broadway season delves into the celebrity status of the superstar agent. Following on in a similar hilarious vein from television touchstones such as ENTOURAGE and GOSSIP GIRL, the show details the extreme lengths an agent would go to ensure their client’s success. As the ferocious Diane, Alison Bruce will make Ari Gold look like Puss n Boots. 

Having begun its theatrical life at New York’s Second Stage Theatre and boasting a cast such as Tom Everett Scott, Julie White and Johnny Galecki, Beane’s play was instantly sold out, transferring to Broadway, where it received a Tony Award for "Best Play" and "Best Performance by a Leading Actress".

THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED will see the welcome return of Paolo Rotondo to Silo Theatre. Last year Rotondo toured the country, in the critically acclaimed Strange Resting Places, as well as writing and producing the short film Dead Letters.  The short film won him a prestigious scholarship in Italy to work on a film in the Italian Film Festival. He is joined by Silo Theatre favourites Alison Bruce (Some Girls; The Mercy Seat), Charlie McDermott (The Threepenny Opera; Mr Marmalade) and Sophie Henderson (The Ensemble Project; Milk).

"…Theatregoers have cause to rejoice. Devastatingly funny, with dizzy, irresistable writing that brings down the house…"The New York Times

WARNING: Contains Nudity, Ribald Humour and Scandal-Du-Jour

October 24th – November 15th 2008,
Herald Theatre, THE EDGE® 
Monday and Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm
Bookings through THE EDGE ticketing on 09 357 3355 or
Tickets: $20-35 

After the sellout success of RABBIT, THE THREEPENNY OPERA and BETRAYAL, advance bookings are strongly recommended.

Indulge your obsession with celebrity culture.  

Alex Eatenbrook:  CHARLIE McDERMOTT
Mitchell Green:  PAOLO ROTONDO

set design:  JOHN VERRYT 
costume design:  ELIZABETH WHITING 
lighting design:  JEREMY FERN 
sound design and composition:  ANDREW McMILLAN 

That’s entertainment

Review by Frances Edmond 01st Nov 2008

Show business – the business of celebrity – is the subject of Douglas Carter Beane’s wickedly funny deconstruction of the movie business. Diane (Alison Bruce), elegant and as sharp as a cut-throat razor, is determined to achieve stardom for her client, actor Mitchell Green (Paolo Rotondo) … And in true movie style, the question becomes, will he get the girl … or the boy … or both … or neither? And at what price?

It’s a clever play about deception. Using complex emotional layering, it examines the large and small lies people tell to justify and protect themselves and, of course, get what they want … or find happiness. Beneath a dazzling surface, it juxtaposes personal undercurrents and the professional masks that those desperate to succeed in the public eye present to the world. And it exposes the consequences for those, like Alex, who are on the outside: it’s tough, tender, courageous, hilarious. [More]


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Pan-sexual shenanigans not to be missed

Review by Shannon Huse 28th Oct 2008

The machinations of dirty Hollywood are exposed in the Silo Theatre’s biting comedy The Little Dog Laughed, which runs until November 15 at the Herald Theatre. If you enjoy speculating about your favourite star’s sexuality and Tom Cruise’s couch-jumping declarations of love had you equally appalled and entranced, then this is the play for you.

Written by Douglas Carter Beane and fresh from hit status in New York, this New Zealand premiere is an almost-love story about a closeted Hollywood playboy who must choose between his career, his agent and his cute toy boy. [More]
For more production details, click on the title at the top of this review. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Review by Nik Smythe 26th Oct 2008

John Verryt’s set evokes a kind of chic decadence with its split levels, shagpile carpet and the giant hotel bed, sideboard and white leather ottoman.  As the lights fade to an unusually vocal audience reception, hardboiled ballbuster Diane swans in wearing the first of many striking outfits each more fit for a Hollywood executive than the last, à la the definitive stylings of costume designer Elizabeth Whiting. 

Diane, played with some relish by Alison Bruce, is the sassy streetwise agent of rising Hollywood lead actor Mitchell Green (Paolo Rotondo).  It all starts innocently enough; lonely drunken Mitchell called up a male escort agency to send young hunk of man meat ‘Bryan’ over for some discrete fun times in said swanky hotel suite.   

Nothing at all abnormal about that, but not the kind of behaviour that helps the profile of a would-be Hollywood contender.  Which wouldn’t even matter so much except the unlikely pair find themselves drawn to each other, and Mitchell starts to spend a lot of his time with the rentboy, real name Alex Easterbrook (Charlie McDermott).     

Trouble is Diane doesn’t like that, and nor does Alex’s girlfriend Ellen, a snotty bimbo Paris Hilton wannabe played with excruciating accuracy by Sophie Henderson.  I’m not sure why the two women have only first names whilst the Mitchell and Alex get surnames?  Perhaps it’s a sly reference to the pecking order of showbiz, still essentially a man’s world after all these decades of expanding awareness.   

On the other hand, the male characters do seem generally more likeable, expressing more genuine humanity than the colder, exploitative females.  Actually though, every character is pretty much out for themselves, which is clear as each character partially narrates the play, in that they vocalise their inner thoughts unheard by the others.   

There’s an obvious comparison to Robert Altman’s ensemble cinema classic The Player, in that the storyline of the movie being pitched by Diane for Mitchell to play the lead in echoes the ‘real’ story.  Indeed, the proposed cinema vehicle serves as a kind of greek chorus to the actual unfolding events in his life.  

It’s a curious thing that might cause a headache with over-thinking, that this play is allegedly exposing the cutthroat amorality of the entertainment industry, itself a product of that same industry… How many of the problems faced by Diane and her ongoing feisty negotiations with her feared production colleague ‘He, meaning him’ were faced by Beane and company in getting The Little Dog Laughed to the Broadway stage?  

Just once or twice on the opening night I was feeling less convinced by parts of the performance – the levels of superficiality and sincerity are perhaps a tricky balance.  The tired old issue of a perceived overrepresentation of American theatre in the local profession is inevitably present, although Tinseltown is certainly world-famous as foreign lifestyles go.  

Ultimately it matters little as the audience hoot and howl, laugh and …maybe not cry, but instead laugh some more at the wit-ridden script of Douglas Carter Beane.  All this garnished with some graphic male nudity and homoerotic activity makes The Little Dog Laughed a play with everything – except maybe likeable women, let alone naked ones. 

It’s all actually even more complicated than what is detailed here; involving layers of sociopolitics and critical issues with conveniently radical solutions.   

The upshot of the whole thing would appear to be that in this day and age we still operate subconsciously or otherwise by the same archaic prejudices as our unenlightened ancestors, and also that to achieve one’s dreams may mean huge sacrifice.  At least, or especially, in dirty, filthy Hollywood.


Mike Tisdall November 4th, 2008

I've been a fan of this website for a while, but haven't been compelled to write anything in the comments of forums until now. I'm not actually a theatre worker like most of the people who write on this, just your average Joe Punter theatre fan.

My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing this the other night and I reckon it's one of the best things that the Silo Theatre has done in years. It brought to mind some of the great nights we've at things like The Women, The Goat and the American baseball one that they did about three years ago. This is absolutely hilarious and the night we went at least two-thirds of the audience jumped up at the end in the curtain call to give the actors a standing ovation. Including us!! The last time I felt so compelled to stand was when the A.T.C. did Midsummer Night's Dream about ten years ago.

We remember Alison Bruce from her Theatre Corporate and Mercury days - and she's never been better than she is in this. The speech she gives about why she is who she is today was just riveting and really moving, absolutely justifying all of her wheeling and dealing and her love of power and control. The guy that played the prostitute was so affecting - his journey from denial to self acceptance to loss was so affecting. The relationship between him and Paulo Rotondo was so clear and convincing - and that drunk scene at the beginning showed what a fantastic showoff Paulo can be. We also loved the other girl - what a find she is - just so funny and those outfits she's got are just great. Much better here than she was in that Roger Hall plunket thing earlier in the year.

We both thought it was really accessible theatre - the audience (both straight and gay) just lapped it up. Everything from the script to the clothes and the lights and the props were just spot on. A big deal seems to have been made out of the nudity in the play. I thought I was going to be embarrassed and have to shut my eyes, but it all seemed like it served the play. Never expected that they'd be able to make nudity such a funny gag like that!!

The one minor quibble about the night and that is the seating in the Herald, which if you sit up the top is cramped and uncomfortable - not as uncomfortable as the sweatbox down the road that the Silo Theatre used to be in though!

The Silo has done such a great job this year. Everything has been so different and unexpected. We can't wait to see what they've got in store for us next year. Bravo to Shane Boscher and Oliver Driver and their company.

Claire Buckley November 2nd, 2008

A cleverly written piece of theatre, with excellent moments and perfectly staged.  The performance of Diane (Alison Bruce) was clearly directed to be over-the-top and in your face, certainly requiring a massive amount of energy and committment from Bruce.  However, the pace and volume for which the part was portrayed (and equally written) left one feeling that there was a lack of dimension from the character.  The ease with which Paolo Rotondo played Mitchell Greene, made the watching of the show easy. His light comfort with the character and natural affinity to the stage did himself and the production as a whole credit. Charlie McDermott on the other hand as Alex, lacked a certain level of sincerity for one to truly connect to him and that left a feeling of awkwardness within the audience during the "moments" between him and Rotondo.  A surprise was the performance of Sophie Henderson as Ellen.  The previous reviews leading one to expect a very two-dimensional dislikeable character, that would be hard to empathise with, however the reverse was true.  Henderson's performance was a highlight, moments of genuine sadness filled her eyes and one felt that they understood where her character was coming from, even if one could not truly relate to it.  On the whole the costumes, beautifully designed by Elizabeth Whiting, together with the oppulence of the set make for a piece of theatre well worth seeing, by all, not just the audience full of middle-aged gay men that attended.  Highly recommended.  Well done to all.

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