Dog, Book and Scandal

This one man show follows Friar Lawrence (Richard Kurnow) a year on from the deaths of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, now living in bitter exile and earning his keep in an apothecary. He takes us through his struggle in maintaining his belief in his own goodness and the goodness of God since the tragic demise of the young lovers.

Though Kurnow does inject bursts of life into the play with an engaging storytelling technique, he also overuses the somewhat clumsy technique of pausing before key words to endow them with extra weight.

Despite a strong start, the narrative soon loses its drive as the play becomes saturated with under-developed and clichéd musings on guilt and God. When the dénouement finally comes, it is largely predictable, while other twists which are unanticipated feel overly contrived. The use of humour often falls flat, and relied rather too heavily on repetitive puns about a dog named ‘Jesus’.

The lack of energy in the plot is reduced further by awkwardly long and seemingly unnecessary scene changes. Though Kurnow does inject bursts of life into the play with an engaging storytelling technique, he also overuses the somewhat clumsy technique of pausing before key words to endow them with extra weight.

Kurnow’s acting is mostly of a good quality, although sometimes lacking in tonal variation. He is at his strongest when presenting the antagonistic relationship between the friar and the apothecary for whom he works, for as he shifts between these two characters, there remains the tangible presence of the other in the room. The two minor female characters are portrayed with less success through the employment of a single unconvincing, unidentifiable accent, which changed only in pitch as Kurnow switched between the two.

While parts of this show are well written and deftly performed, Dog, Book and Scandal does not contain enough material to sustain an audience’s interest for the duration.

Reviews by Megan Dalton

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Finding the Will in association with The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham presents Bard Heads: Dog, Book and Scandal. Bard Heads takes an updated look at some well-loved characters from Shakespeare’s most popular plays and imagines what might have happened next. In Dog, Book and Scandal, Friar Laurence faces criticism over star-crossed lovers' fiasco. Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Bard Heads catches up with Friar Laurence one year on from the tragedy. Written and performed by Richard Curnow. 'Bard Heads is an electrifying one-to-one between each character and the audience' (Wiltshire Gazette and Herald).