The Hand of Dog

Alan Bennett, The Outside Dog (directed by Nadia Fall, Br/dge Theatre)
Alan Bennett, The Hand of God (directed by Jonathan Kent, Br/dge Theatre)

bridgeI’m not sure that I ever saw the second season of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues and I certainly haven’t seen The Bridge’s TV remakes. Probably, I should.

Here we have Julie Walters “replaced” by Rochenda Sandall — I know her from Line of Duty — as a houseproud wife, Marjory, driven to distraction by her slaughterhouse worker husband Stuart’s dog (the titular outside canine). She forces him to clean up before he enters their house — and what evidence this is hiding is pretty obvious even before Bennett foregrounds it. But we have a woman who is trapped, by her own anxieties as much as her husband’s wrong doings. 

I think the schtick is for the audience to be ahead of the character, which we get some of in Kristin Scott Thomas’s antique dealing Celia (a role originated by Eileen Atkins) in The Hand of God. I certainly figured out that the home help who has sold Celia some small items has lifted them from her client before Celia did. We do get the sense that Celia’s sense of superiority is going to come back and bite her — something she has bought is not what it seems.

As with Beat the Devil, some of the transitions felt a little awkward — you presumably crossfade on screen — with the second monologue making more use of projection (thinking about it, both did, but it was stronger here). Thomas’s was the stronger of the two, but I did sometimes struggle with her volume.

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