Areas covered: the actors, the set, the story, the nudity.
In a moment of truth, Hollywood agent Diane, played by Lindsey Marlin, works out a deal with strange bedfellows Alex, a New York hustler, played by Alex Kip, his girlfriend, played by Maya Sayre, and her movie star client, Matt Bailey. Photo by Heather Wack.1) Yay for the return of Jonathan Putnam! Putnam is captivating on stage (loyal local theater-goers most commonly know him as the disgruntled store elf in CATCO's former productions of "Santaland Diaries" by David Sedaris). It was exciting to see his directorial work again in "The Little Dog Laughed." Putnam is a superb comedic actor and he deftly passed on his skills of expressing humor to his show's actors. 2) Speaking of those actors, all are members of the Actors Equity Association, but of particular note is Lindsey Marlin. Marlin played the role of Diane, the cunning Hollywood agent who is as fake as R-Patz and Kristen Stewart's relationship. To prepare for the role, Marlin read "The Real, Low Down, Dirty Truth About Hollywood Agenting," by Rima Greer. Well done. Marlin packs a hilarious bitch slap, delivering the wittiest lines seeping in snotty vile while remaining exciting and funny. It was a performance that was not overbearing and not underdone, places roles like that can easily go. Sidenote: I also really enjoyed the performance of Matt Bailey, the closeted movie star. He managed to nail hot-gay-boy-next-door-meets-one-track-mind-career-man without ever losing the audience's amiable disposition toward the character. I couldn't tell if Bailey's mannerisms as our star-crossed lover reminded me of Johnny Galecki in "The Big Bang Theory" because they were reminiscent of Leonard's sensitive boy-man body language or if Galecki was just on my mind because he played the Hustler in the original stage version of "The Little Dog Laughed." Jury's still out. 3) The play is performed in the venue's Green Room, and "The Little Dog Laughed" multi-level set, designed by Patrick Allison, raises the bar for the versatility this room can offer. The Green Room is a challenging space (consider the poles blocking a few views and the noise and yelling from the sidewalk directly outside) but this small but smart design keeps the play flowing logically. This is a great space for performances that benefit from intimacy between actor and audience. 4) While I'd recommend seeing "The Little Dog Laughed" simply because it's really funny, it's also a coming of adulthood story. You know, adulthood… when you're making decisions that will affect the rest of your life about the person you will become and the person you want to be with as, meanwhile, less and less of the world gives a crap about you. Talk about pressure. Some of the lines in "The Little Dog Laughed" address this while playfully mocking the urgency of it all. Examples: "I just want to be with you and I don't even know you." "My childhood is so motherf---ing over. When did that happen?" "We're 24. Hope is dead." 5) There's not so much full-frontal nudity as there is handsome boy bootay. And, honestly, there's so much going on you barely notice it. Get to laughin': Short North Stage's Green Room Through Nov. 25 1187 N. High St., Short North shortnorthstage.org