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Hot Dog, The Last Refuge

Sarah Kosar
Directed by Faye Merralls


Pros: Simultaneously funny and thought provoking, this show will stay with you long into the evening.

Cons: The venue was freezing, the performance space in particular. This did distract a lot of attention from the play itself.

Our Verdict: Hot Dog is a striking piece of new writing which skilfully tackles questions of ageing, illness and humanity with consistently dark but on-the-mark humour. 

Courtesy of Descent Theatre

Sarah Kosar’s Hot Dog gets you asking a lot of questions. How would you deal with your mother being a dog? To what extent would you sacrifice your own life in order to walk her, feed her and clean up her messes on the floor? In Descent Theatre’s production of this brand new play, the scenario is played out in front of you while asking the audience – what happens when we lose our humanity?

The play’s venue is an experience all in itself – the quirky, wonderfully friendly atmosphere of The Last Refuge is a real treat. The room beyond the entrance was glowing red with candles and heaters, and the bar was offering complimentary mini hot dogs to audience members; not only a brilliant touch but an effective way of introducing the play.

With just four actors, the cast of Hot Dog is small but effective. With fewer people to focus on, it’s easy to understand each of Kosar’s beautifully written characters, each of whom were portrayed with consistent American accents. Tessa Hatts as The Dog is particularly suited to the black humour of the script and watching a grown woman tossing a squeaky hotdog toy around with her mouth on all fours in a furry dog hat is certainly an unusual sight. But the laughter she evoked was mixed with palpable discomfort at the diminishing of a human being. This is no bad thing; with The Dog representing a dependant elderly parent holding back her offspring, the humorous discomfort strikingly conveys the difficulty of watching loved ones age.

The set consists of two minimally constructed kitchens with house layouts marked onto the floor in tape, reflecting the very domestic tone of the piece. Most of the play takes place sat around the two kitchen tables and there are moments where a little more movement wouldn’t go amiss. Chatting to the cast afterwards, they were full of praise for director Faye Merralls’ work and with good reason too. The clear focus of Hot Dog is the writing but her direction brings domestic small-town America to life, even in a freezing concrete room.

Hot Dog is a wittily constructed play and while the acting and directing were accomplished, Sarah Kosar’s script remained the strong point throughout. This is a must see for people with an interest in new writing – just be sure to wrap up warm.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!

Hot Dog runs at Descent Theatre until Sunday 17th March 2013.
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