GOOD DOG REVIEW – NORTHERN STAGE
Good Dog Review- A performance you need to see in 2019
Walking into Northern Stage I had no idea of what to expect from Good Dog, I knew it would be a piece of theatre that would make me think about society and the many problems that are being tackled within the UK. I did a small amount of research before hand and got a sense of what this piece of theatre was going to tackle.
Good Dog is a 2 hour production that follows the life of an adolescence boy though his life and the reality of living in an austerity Britain in a multi-cultural community. Good Dog is written by Arinzé Kene who has created pieces including God’s Property in 2013 and has writing credits including Misty, Little baby Jesus and Estate Wall. Natalie Ibu (director) and Arinzé Kene (writer) have created a piece of theatre that I would say is a conversational piece. You won’t leave this theatre thinking about what you’re going to have for your dinner tomorrow but actually think about how society and the community around us affects who we become as people.
Kwaku Mills plays the main character Boy, he starts off around adolescent age and you see the innocence in his attitude to life. Boy tells the story of his life while also telling you about his neighbours lives and about how they are all waiting for something good to happen to them.
Boy doesn’t want much in his life but a bike that his mother promised him and that he’s seen in the window of Sam’s shop – a beautiful two wheel, shiny body, handlebars ready bike. Boy makes the understanding to get his bike that he must grow up to be a good man.
Have you ever thought about what your life might be like like if you only ever did good? Yep your most likely going to live a good life you think but what about when bad things happen to good people around you?
Through the first half of this production you see boy go through hard times at school and home life is starting to put pressure on him. He knows that he just has to keep his chin up and when the bullies come for him he just has to keep his head down and make sure that his shirt is clean by the end of the day. Boy can only think about being good because he knows that good things happen to good people.
He tell you in the first scene about each character within the production. The characters that make up the community remind me so much of my adolescence life. With characters like Gandhi who is the corner shop owner who is desperately waiting for the day the ‘What What girls’ to start being kind to him; Mrs Blackwood is waiting for her husband to notice her again and not look at the lady over the road who is always coming over to get her dirty laundry cleaned (that washing machine needs someone to come fix it). Old Man Boating is waiting for the alcohol to not be worth drinking anymore and Trevor Senior is waiting for when the smoking boys will leave the wall near his house so he can play cricket with his son in peace. All these characters are putting their heads down and hoping because they are doing the good thing that they will get what they deserve in life.
‘Gandhi remind me so much of my local corner shop when I was a teenager and how much that corner shop meant to the people in my community’ Quoted by Melissa Marshall
The staging for this production is simple but used greatly throughout the show. You only ever see boy and can I just say Kwaku Mills holds the stage on his own in a way that I’ve never seen, you feel like you’re in the moment with him when he’s slowly growing up through his life tackling the issues that society is throwing at him. The production use pre-recorded voices to portray the community characters and definitely give the production more dimension. Boys personality shines throughout the 2 hours but you see the toil that trying to live a good life in a society that finds good people an easy target has on him. Throughout the production you see how small changes in the community effect Boy in both a good and bad way until a tragic and significant change happens which changes the way Boy thinks about the world.
The performance is full of moments that will remind you of a time in your life, from the number of reference to the early naughties and the child like references to a simple life a good life and how that changes throughout growing up.
This piece definitely goes to places that you regularly see happening on the news and in the papers. It discusses situations and topics that are happening all the time in the UK and Arinzé Kene portrays this story in a way that makes you think about how not just the individual is affected but how the individuals in community are affected by situations that are out of their control but become part of the community story.
Good Boy is travelling around the UK and definitely something I recommend seeing in 2019 if you can. You can find dates for local performances (here) and if your in Newcastle you can find it at Live Theatre on the 1st March.
Review Written by Melissa Marshall from www.melissajanemarshall.co.uk