Stage Raw: D is for Dog
By Steven Leigh Morris Tue., Jul. 12 2011 at 9:16 AM
NEW REVIEW GO D IS FOR DOG begins with deceptive simplicity, as a (seemingly) entertaining parody of the mindless and stultifying conformity of the 1950s. Playwright Kate Polebaum’s script focuses on the Rogers family, a robotic quartet consisting of a devoted couple, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (Guy Birtwhistle and Nina Silver), and their enthusiastically complaisant kids (played by adults), Dick and Jane (Michael Scott Allen and Taylor Coffman). Each morning, a smiling Mrs. Rogers pirouettes through the kitchen to display its glories, and at each breakfast the family pays a jingled tribute to Maxwell House and Aunt Jemima. Only Mr. Rogers, a scientist who works for the omnipotent Conservation Company, is aware of the ominous forces threatening their home. He maintains a protective silence so as not to alarm his loved ones — until strange phone calls start to intrude on their innocence. Director Sean T. Cawelti and tech director Tyler Stamets marshal a panoply of talent to relay what metamorphoses into a riveting sci-fi tale that, like the best of that genre, comes off as frighteningly prescient.
The spot-on ensemble include Coffman’s strangely aberrant child and Birtwhistle’s caring Dad, a beacon of humanity amidst the bizarre landscape that envelops him. What makes this production so distinctive, however, is its staging – a coalescence of elements that includes flawlessly calibrated sound (John Nobori) and original music (Nobori and Ben Phelps), artful lighting (Haylee Freeman) and stunning graphics (Matthew T. Hill). The menacing life-size puppets are spooky enough to haunt one’s nightmares for a very long time. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A., Fri.- Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun, 4 p.m. thru Aug. 7 (323) 463-3900. studio-stage.com. (Deborah Klugman)