Timmy, the Dog, Disappears
Created by Martin Dockery (prod. Black Sheep Theatre)
60min / 14+ / Comedy / Drama / Satire
Shawna is home, Jason is in the couch, and their parents are preoccupied with eggplant and bomb shelters. Fred is having a rough night, and Bob just needs to pee. Nobody has seen Timmy the dog in a few days.
Timmy, the Dog, Disappears is a weird, dark, funny, uncomfortable, emotionally charged, strange, tense, sad show. Characters communicate complex emotional states while only saying trivial things. Par for the course for playwright (and Fringe veteran) Martin Dockery—though I’m most used to him performing his own scripts, so this was a first.
This awkward exploration of unbalanced familial relationships unfolds around a celebratory dinner at home that takes a number of unexpected turns. The sensation of being an accidental voyeur of other people’s private life makes it an uncomfortable experience at times, especially when a common theme is not listening to what other people are saying. Some of this is due to selective attention, though a good deal of the humour is predicated on misunderstood dialogue due to hearing loss. The inappropriate reply is often clever and well-timed, though I personally got tired of it as a joke setup after a little while. The line between stylistically awkward and repetitive dialogue, and merely stilted, is a blurry one that’s crossed and recrossed throughout the show.
It’s a busy stage, with a lot going on.
This is one of the most elaborate sets I’ve seen at a Fringe show: a couch, a fully set dining room table, two doors, three doorways, and a writing desk. It’s a busy stage, with a lot going on. Perhaps because of this there were a few opening night blips—a dropped prop, slightly mistimed dialogue, a door on set with its own opinions about the correct time to open. The cast handled all of these well and kept the show moving forward.
Being familiar with some of Dockery’s other Fringe shows makes it hard to consider Timmy in isolation. Fans of Dockery-the-actor may keenly feel his absence, though his voice shines through in nearly every character. Still, even divorced of its context, this is a twisted, funny, unpredictable play about good intentions, poor communication, and how people react when things start to fall apart.
Timmy, the Dog, Disappears by Martin Dockery is playing at Academic Hall (133 Seraphin-Marion) until Saturday June 22, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.