A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs
Direction: Jonathan Price (written by Barnaby Olson & Company)
Circa Theatre; Circa Two (January 17 – February 8)
This is a repeat-season, but the play is retitled, reworked and though I didn’t see it 18 months or so ago in its earlier incarnation at BATS it’s clear that this is tighter, sharper – there’s such obvious skill on display from the opening moments.
A Traveller’s Guide To Turkish Dogs stars (and is written by) Barnaby Olson. He plays a version of himself. He is telling his own story. He’s assisted by three brilliant actors, all co-credited with the writing/devising of this work. All playing multiple characters and deftly shifting accents and personalities, in particular Tess Sullivan is a master at using facial expressions to own various characters. But each of the actors on stage shows great skill. Andrew Paterson has a dry comic timing whether performing Irish or South African accents or when deadpanning as an eccentric Turkish historian-cum-dandy. And Stevie Hancox-Monk must, along with a great range of character play including swift wig and accent changes, make a cardboard box appear life-like, dog-like as the prop transitions from mere box to the dog of the title and play’s inspiration. It’s truly amazing to see this box dance and twirl about the stage chasing sticks, bounding up to its owner for a pat or whimpering and worried in the face of potential abandonment.
So, A Traveller’s Guide bursts into life with Barnaby narrating this real-life shaggy-dog tale of how he moved to the Turkish coast to build boats and came to inherit a bullied, beaten stray animal.
To divulge any more of the plot is to ruin marvellous set pieces, affecting triumphs of hairpin turns from outrageous humour to gentle pathos – but if you attend this play you are in very safe hands.
Sullivan’s comic timing drew plenty of laughs – the brilliant voices, superb use of profanity – and between Paterson, Hancox-Monk and Olson we see and hear and feel a great range of humanity.
This OE story of a man and his dog has so much dramaturgical skill to recommend it – but none of the heart of it has been stripped in the telling, it’s been beautifully nurtured, skilfully supported.
This is a quite astonishing ‘small’ production. One simple – but ingeniously used – set, four players that riff and solo and then come together like one of the all-time great jazz quartets and such faith in the pure concept of storytelling. Drag yourself out to the theatre as summer holidays blur with first weeks of work. Go and see this.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron