Dog Stories | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Dog Stories 

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DOG STORIES, Public Trust Theatre Company, at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse. Chicago-based playwright Keith Huff has done a clever thing: he's found a way to combine a number of disparate monologues, all of them more or less about dogs, into a single play. The unifying thread is the elderly Ira's desperate journey across the country with his beloved cancer-ridden pooch Sebastian--wherever Ira turns, he runs into yet another person with a dog story.

A clever premise is not enough, however, to make this shallow, digressive, flat, only mildly humorous play satisfying. Part of the problem is that the characters Ira meets on the road--a philosophical homeless man, a talkative cabdriver, and a vulgar regular Joe--seem more like a playwright's idea of real people than real people themselves. Similarly, the tales they tell fall into that timid middle ground between realism and magic realism, lacking both the tang of truth and the joyful flight of imaginative whimsy.

The most fantastical story here--a potentially erotic fairy tale about a man who dreams he's been turned into a hound by his girlfriend's witchy sister after she catches them making love doggy-style--seems more like a first draft than a final one. In fact the whole play feels more like a writing exercise than a fully committed attempt to create a living, breathing work of theater. There's just nothing director Max Baker and his adept Public Trust cast can do to wake this sleeping dog up.

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