Dogs in the west ~ theatre notes

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dogs in the west

I'm all for theatres in the west, which is my side of town. When Simon Stone opened the Hayloft Project in Seddon, I was briefly excited (especially when I went to see Platonov), but sadly that space ran into trouble through no fault of the Hayloft's. But it seems that the west's time has come.

The Dog Theatre, a nifty and well-set-up little space in Footscray's Dancing Dog Cafe, was launched yesterday with champagne and lots of enthusiasm. The theatre is about the size of La Mama, and with a similar - if new and raw - feeling about it.

It's opening on September 24 with a project directed for the Melbourne Fringe by our blogger friend Matt Scholten. It's a westy affair - Matt lives six doors down from the cafe, and he's putting on Daniel Keene's Half & Half. (Keene is a man of many identities, but is chiefly known as an eager patron of Coles supermarket in Williamstown.) Half & Half is a two-hander which - for once - deserves the Beckettian adjective that often attaches itself to Keene's work. It premiered as a Playbox/Keene/Taylor co-production in 2001, with Rob Menzies and Dan Spielman, and won the NSW Premier's Prize the following year. In this revisiting, it features Anthony Winnick and Matthew Molony. It promises well. (And in case you're asking - as with other indie productions of Keene's work in the past few years, I'm not reviewing it).

Upcoming Dog productions include a piece on Bulldog footballing hero Ted Whitten, again directed by Scholten, and some comedy. The connections with La Mama are more than superficial - watch for some exchange between a revitalised La Mama and the west. It promises to be a fertile new space in an area which is ripe for its own independent theatre.

The Dog Theatre, Dancing Dog Cafe/Bar, 42A Albert Street, Footscray.

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