Dog Act

All style and no drama, full of miraculous toys


Through Sept. 19

Moves to the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (at Martin Luther King), Berkeley, from Sept. 23 through Oct. 10.

Admission is pay-what-you-can

(510) 841-6500


Thick House, 1695 18th St. (between Arkansas and De Haro), S.F.

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"Rozetta Stone's Travelling Vaudeville with Dog Act, currently under contract to the King of China" reads the sign on Rozetta's gypsy wagon, which folds out to become a stage but most of the time looks like an old junk cart hung with eccentric puppets, stamped-tin plates, porcelain figurines, and a burnt rubber Teletubby. Liz Duffy Adams' new play envisions a Mad Max-style future in which roving tribes battle for control of what used to be Texas and New England, and regular people are forced to survive as (fairly bad) vaudevillians. The language is thick with wannabe-Joycean puns and tinges of hip hop slang. ("The sea," says Rozetta. "It the big wet. ... It smell like a come-on meeting a want-to." Or, waxing faux-nostalgic for China, which she's never seen, "Who-all has not heard of that wonderacity?") In spite of a powerful effort by Beth Donohue as Rozetta, as well as C. Dianne Manning as a mysterious stranger who recognizes Dog Act from a more civilized time, the characters never rise above their forced eccentricities. Dog Act is all style and no drama, full of miraculous toys like a three-string guitar made from a crutch or a resonant xylophone made of Styrofoam and wrenches -- still a plaything more than a play.

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