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Dominoes, The Cat’s Back – Review

Pros: The production has a strong beginning and Phoebe McIntosh performs with verve and enthusiasm. 

Cons: Expositional dialogue takes the place of acting with unfortunate regularity. Emotionally one note.

Pros: The production has a strong beginning and Phoebe McIntosh performs with verve and enthusiasm.  Cons: Expositional dialogue takes the place of acting with unfortunate regularity. Emotionally one note. About a mile from Putney station, The Cat’s Back is not easy to reach from East London. That said, I’ve travelled further for theatre and I dare say I will do so again. A pleasant pub, with a lovely outdoor area, it is a good venue for pre or post-show drinks. The theatre itself is an upstairs room that doubles as a sauna. Seating is eclectic and not raked. This…

Summary

Rating

Poor

If you’re a one-person show Fringe addict come and get your fix.

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About a mile from Putney station, The Cat’s Back is not easy to reach from East London. That said, I’ve travelled further for theatre and I dare say I will do so again. A pleasant pub, with a lovely outdoor area, it is a good venue for pre or post-show drinks. The theatre itself is an upstairs room that doubles as a sauna. Seating is eclectic and not raked. This is my personal bugbear with certain theatres as what one sees (or doesn’t) is often key to understanding or enjoying a piece. It would be a great space for music or stand up.

Dominoes (as chance would have it) is the third one-person show I’ve reviewed for Everything Theatre in two weeks. It’s possible that I am becoming saturated with the form but this, admittedly competent, show fails to stand out from the crowd.

Phoebe McIntosh strides confidently onto stage. Her persona as a teacher is well developed and believable. The opening section takes place in a classroom and is the strongest part of the show. However, it sets the scene for future inconsistencies. At times the audience is the de facto class 6B; at times we are gifted asides; more often, we are thrown expositional dialogue. This frustrated me immensely. When a character is reduced to telling me, at length, how they feel, it removes the need for acting. It also robs scenes of tension and drama. It is puzzling why McIntosh made this choice, as she is clearly a talented performer.

McIntosh struggles to physically differentiate her characters and her accents are inconsistent. Perhaps as a result of this, secondary characters feel underdeveloped. I had little idea of their underlying motivations, history or relationships below a surface level. The issues raised between them are prevalent and would benefit from deeper exploration. Unfortunately, the heavy exposition limits examination of the themes to the shallows.

With fast get ins and get outs, technical issues can be expected at fringe venues. McIntosh was often cast into shadow or washed out, these are minor things but can harm the suspension of disbelief. A base costume was added to and utilised well to transition between scene and occasion.

There is undeniable potential here. I enjoyed sections of the show and, at times, the writing made me laugh. However, very little developed as the show progressed and the stakes never felt that high.

Written, directed, performed & produced by: Phoebe McIntosh
Co-directed by: Ann Akin
Box Office: 020 8617 3448
Booking Link: http://www.wandsworthfringe.com/whats-on/dominoes
Booking Until: 21 May 2017

About James Shears

James Shears
A Geordie exile, James left the fog on the Tyne to train as an actor at The Poor School and Drama Centre. As a teenaged founder member of semi-feral a cappella group, ‘The Polysonics’, he discovered an enduring love of music and performance. Now, a voice artiste, writer, actor/musician and mandolin enthusiast. James has written for The Royal Opera House and Bath International Music Festival. Theatre is his passion.