Blush of Dogs

7 - 25 April 2015

by Roland Reynolds

‘a demented cackle of a play… a bloodied ride through tragedy, exerting a feverish pull as it careens from the epic to the absurd with arterial-black humour.’
‘In Reynolds’ hands, we get dangerously jacked-up machismo and frustrated emasculation – translated in one brilliantly bonkers scene into an oiled-up wrestling match between the brothers that reaches epically homoerotic proportions.’
– Tom Wicker, Time Out 
★★★★

‘the impressive cast never falter’
‘really funny… testament to Roland Reynolds’ excellent writing.’
‘It may not be for the faint-hearted, but Blush of Dogs is a thought-provoking and extremely relevant piece of theatre, brilliantly staged and performed, and well worth seeing.’
– Liz Dyer, LondonTheatre1
★★★★★

‘Blush of Dogs by Roland Reynolds, who also directs, is possibly one of the boldest, most original debuts I’ve seen in quite a while.’
‘it feels both ancient and modern, with startling comic interjections punctuating swathes of grand poetic language.’
‘heady mixture of intensity and ludicrousness’
– Andrew Haydon, Postcards from the Gods

A series of vicious civil wars has ended. A small city state half way across the world rebuilds itself in the ashes. The victorious King exiles his rival to the throne, his own brother, to a remote land far from the kingdom. The Queen, lover of her husband’s brother, raises in his absence the 3 young daughters he abandoned on his journey as she represses the love she harbours for the banished prince. The blind and aged priest, seer to the king, prophesies unhappy times ahead.

Blush of Dogs is a play about conflicting freedoms and the desire to break repressive cycles. Inspired by contemporary life and adapted from the myth of Thyestes, private struggles clash in the shadows of intense public scrutiny.

In their presentation at the Tabard Theatre, Fragen Theatre Company brings you an ancient Greek story as it has never been seen before – inhabiting a sinister world of stark expressionism fuelled by humour, naked humanity and treacherous hope.

An Interview from Fragen Theatre Company:

Blush of Dogs is an adaptation of a greek myth, the story of Thyestes – a powerful and independent woman is dragged into the maelstrom of two brothers warring over their ancestral throne, leading to pain, horror and bloodshed.

Sounds grim and over the top. We approach this dark subject matter, though, with irreverent humour and with balance, aiming to see it through multiple perspectives so we’re not drawn into a vague and self-indulgent tragedy at the expense of real, honest relationships.

3 actors transform themselves to play 7 roles between them to accomplish this: the nobles, Atreus the king, Aerope his wife and Thyestes his brother trapped in their individual perceptions of the world and cannot see past their own blinkered view; the chorus of slaves who prey on the fears and insecurities breeding in the palace and laugh at the events they witness; and Tiresias the blind and ancient prophet who can’t overcome his embarrassment to warn everyone about what’s going to happen – he’s not even always sure about it himself!

As a company we’re trying to approach theatre with an intensity more often associated with sports than the stage, and this is why we use transformation and multi-roling coupled with such extreme stories. The energy that is required to sustain such contrasting characters without any rest, offstage break or interval is a challenge for the actor and we’ve found that that challenge breeds a sense of danger and unpredictability in performance – while our actors are fully in control, they are always open to the impulses of the moment and it’s this impulsive presence that we want to share with an audience. The show is never the same one performance to the next as no actor or spectator is the same person one day to another.

We want to bring spectators into a world like our own, a world where we’re surrounded by questions and where the answers to those questions, if they exist at all, sound unconvincing and insubstantial. We don’t have a particular political agenda but political thought is at the core of what we do. Saying that, we aim to produce work that is physically and emotionally engaging, leaving any cerebral connections to be made at the bar afterwards. We’re looking to make a world where iPods and prophecy go hand in hand, where the recognisable and comfortable clash up against the exotic and the disturbed. We take risks and we’re looking for spectators to take risks with us.