My Barking Dog, a play by Eric Coble, had its UK premiere at the Rabbit Hole Theatre in Hampstead. Described as a modern-day urban fairytale, it is the story of two residents of a tower block in an unnamed city in America, and the coyote that visits them and turns their lives around.
Melinda, a factory worker, and Toby, currently unemployed, live lives of repetition, boredom and quiet desperation. Speaking directly to the audience, they recount the minutiae of their daily lives until, one day, a coyote visits their apartment block. The presence of the coyote kicks off a dramatically unexpected chain of events.
I admit that I expected the play to be a predictable, though sweet, story but it actually veered off into directions I could never have predicted. The fairytale quality of the piece meant that the outrageous happenings seemed natural and normal. The performances of the two actors were central to this acceptance. Lloyd Morris as Toby was excellent at conveying his character’s initial sense of inadequacy and his growing confidence as the play went on. Lisa Ronaghan as Melinda was brilliant – I loved her slightly unhinged expressions and her enthusiasm. Eric Coble’s script was rich in detail and often very funny; through his words we got a sense of the coyote – the unseen third character in the play.
Asking questions about nature, the environment and what makes us human, My Barking Dog is an unusual, thought-provoking and memorable play.