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Anna Robi and The House of Dogs

Festivals

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Playwright Maxine Mellor’s darkly comedic, bawdy take on suburban malaise delivers more bark than bite in this bizarre tale of a bed-ridden mother and virginal daughter locked in the dog-house of familial interdependence.

A little over-reliant on gratuitous language, excrement, phone sex and genital jokes, Mellor has nonetheless succeeded in creating characters that pound our assumptions of that intriguing battle-field, otherwise known as the mother-daughter relationship, into a tentative submission.

A urine-stained bed takes centre-stage – a bed shared by the crass, incontinent mother (brilliantly played by Emily Branford), a frustrated, despairing daughter (the pasty, simmering Hannah Nicholson), bitches in heat and the occasional dog with a boner. The token male, a caricature of manhood from the bogan’s point-of-view, is played with panache by Phil Harker-Smith.

But how much phone sex, dog sex, bed-wetting and meat-slapping does it take to make a point? The only obvious point, in this case, a lipstick dog penis.

Mellor has an affinity for the absurd, and this play could have become a surreal trip into the ether of dysfunctional family life; unfortunately, it was side-swiped by its need to repeatedly cock its leg against the wrong tree.

Take your doggy bag along to The Studio at Holden Street Theatres, where Gobsmacked Theatre Company is presenting the 18+-rated Anna Robi and The House of Dogs until March 8.

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