The Dog Beneath The Skin, originally written by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood and now playing at London's Jermyn Street Theatre, is scattered with enjoyable moments but, overall, misses the mark. The play does sometimes fall into good a rhythm, but it's never long before something jars.
When Sir Francis Crewe goes missing, Alan Norman is sent to travel the world in search of him, propelled by the promised reward of half of Francis' estate, and Francis' sister's hand in marriage. The conclusion of the story is a thrown-together mixture of symbolic political unrest, a strange plot twist, and an attempt to draw meaning from an ultimately incoherent production.
Throughout, The Dog Beneath The Skin bounces between exaggerated comedy and forced seriousness. Some scenes strike this balance well, but not enough to bring the whole production together. The concept of the play might have worked better had it been simplified and better contained.
That said, the play does have good moments. The live music which is embedded into the show works brilliantly and is very enjoyable, especially when combined with atmospheric narration.
The Dog Beneath The Skin is a play which starts out odd … and just gets odder, leaving audience members struggling to make sense of it. There are enjoyable moments within the play but, for me, there just weren't enough of them to compensate for the overall disjointedness of the production.
The Dog Beneath The Skin is playing at Jermyn Street Theatre until the 31st March 2018.