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Phil Hopkins
Arts & Travel Editor
@philhopkinsuk
7:00 AM 7th June 2021
arts

A Dog's Tale - A Mastiff Triumph!

If you travel to the extremities of anything it usually produces something resembling comedy. So, when you apply it to the craziness of Crufts Dog Show and then throw in a smattering of Agatha Christie suspense, you end up with a hilarious whodunnit that comfortably sustains itself for two hours.

Poppy Hollman is a graduate of Mikron Theatre Company’s New Writers Scheme and, whether or not she is a dog lover, she certainly researched her subject to within an inch of its life, to produce the beautifully crafted A Dog’s Tale which opened in the covid free setting of the car park at Leeds’ The Holbeck, once the old Holbeck WMC

But there wasn’t a dog in sight, just four actors, dozens of characters – they must have played three or four each – and imaginary mutts pulling one and all here, there and everywhere! They acted, they barked, we laughed and two hours passed quickly with lots of genuine laughs.

There’s polite laughter – the laughter that says ‘I think I should titter here because it was meant to be funny’ and there’s the uncontrollable laugh from the abdomen, that ignores all things politically correct and crashes from one’s body with the grace of bad wind.

I laughed: genuinely!

Gary’s the canine that gets dognapped, Margot, the hoity toity owner of Pomeranian show dog Queenie and Carl the primper and sprayer who ‘shows’ the up-market mutt in the duo’s eternal quest to become ‘Best in show’.

Then there’s the nobbler – he who tries to influence the outcome – the cameo Scots couple, eager to win something but less eager to part with their cash, and the old gimmer who’s on a day out claiming ‘We’ve just ‘ad a salad!’ as if to contribute to the Crufts mayhem.

Not forgetting, of course, the human stars.

Elizabeth Robin was brilliantly versatile and had the makings of a true comedy gurner with the ability to drift in and out of characters with complete dexterity. James McLean, a 5-year stalwart of Mikron is an absolute anchor, Rachel Benson and Thomas Cotran, true ‘pull their weighters!”

The partial humour of the show – apart from its witty script – was the organised chaos and, occasionally, dog names were mixed up but quickly corrected producing momentary panto moments.

I went to The Holbeck at 6pm on a Saturday night thinking: ‘Oh this is a bit early! My appearance required effort: the effort to get there, to park, to sit out doors.

But, it was worth it. As I left I commented that this show was worthy of more than a car park or an allotment – Mikron are famed for performing anywhere and everywhere. It was well crafted. The actors were brilliant and it sustained.

Top marks to Poppy Hollman, the production’s four actors and, of course Director, Rachel Gee, who ensured that this script did not turn into the chaos of calamity which it could so easily have done. It didn’t! Go see it, you’ll have a fun night out.

PS: Composer and Musical Director: Rebekah Hughes’ songs were also brilliant. Nuff said!

Opps To See
Tomorrow 8th June Zapato Brewing, Holme Mills, West Slaithwaite Rd, Huddersfield HD7 5DA
Scarcroft Allotment, Scarcorft Rd, York YO23 1NE. 6pm 11th June.
Tickets: . Call 01484 843701