good dog is a multi-layered monologue, brilliantly acted by Anton Cross (Boy). This play asks big questions of its audience. I concentrated hard – especially as I was new to some of the lingo in Arinzé Kene’s brilliant stage play. Just lissen, we heard about tings that were nuff good brudda, and dem teefing what what girls, as a linguistic immersion in the world of a tight-knit community of black Africans living in the UK. After the show, I did google the meaning of duppy, a character(s) which appeared in so many different guises. A malicious spirit. But Duppy holds train doors open at one point?
We’re introduced to the community: neighbours having affairs; dem smoking boys; alcoholics; and Trevor senior defending his house with a red cricket bat, in between training his son as a banging cricketer.
We first meet 13 year old Boy, who’s being bullied by Desmon at school. Will kids always be bullied at school I thought? Is there nothing that can be done? Boy hopes that if he’s nuff nuff good, his mum will buy him a bike, so he tries to ignore the bullying – to be the bigger man. So it was fascinating to see the seismic shift in Boy’s approach as he watches a ricocheting cricket ball to decide that, in life, you juss have to pass on the hit. Ah – the continuum of doormat to violence, I thought. I looked forward, with trepidation, to the second half.
And after the interval, we were presented with a heady melange of humour, hope and despair, with death, madness, and love. Although, considering Boy’s respect for Gandhi, I don’t understand Boy’s actions in the race riots.
I was charmed by the animals too – Gandhi’s stray cat with a poor paw, that never catches a rat, and “Little dog with the big tail” that eventually does what she has to. But how far are we, as humans, prepared to go to defend: ourselves, the ones we love, and our communities?
I liked the subtle off-stage voices of the other characters, and the simple, dark, cuboid set for Boy to climb on and ram. With one faster costume change, and Boy sitting where he can always be seen, the mice will indeed scatter when the track rumbles.
Guest Blogger, March