Although far from perfect, this is a pleasant and, at times, touching comedy about the stresses and strains of family life. Based on truth, Hound Dog follows a mother's quest to adopt a dog she felt a connection with while on holiday in Crete. Her devotion to the canine causes chaos as she fails to fully appreciate the needs of everyone in the family, particularly her fragile teenage daughter. It is no spoiler that Juno the pooch eventually arrives from Greece, resulting in further upheaval.
I did not expect to find actors in dog costumes and although this might put you off, don't let it. They strike a delightful balance between having to portray a dog seriously, while simultaneously sharing the ridiculousness of their parts with the audience. Key to this are the highly amusing and imaginative scene changes which were an absolute joy. I loved the droll father, the grumpy teens and the wholly believable interaction with the 'dogs'. However this play does suffer from two key flaws. First is its length. At times I could have screamed; Juno doesn't arrive until halfway through the play which is far too late considering that the characters discuss nothing else for half an hour. This leads me to the second problem: that it wouldn't seem so long if it was a bit more interesting. The script tries to be naturalistic, intent on portraying family life as realistically as possible but it is almost too realistic for the theatre, where what audiences want is a bit of drama. I felt like I was watching a stage version of The Archers with some dog outfits thrown in for light relief.
Furthermore, for every line that drew a smile there was one that made me wince. It can be debilitatingly cheesy, glib and events occur and pass so quickly that you're left feeling that the end result wasn't worth the build up.
Even so, I'm glad I saw it. There is something about this play which is very endearing. That it is based on truth nobody can deny, not only because we all want to murder our families at times, but also due to events at the curtain call, of which I can reveal no more. So although someone made a dog's dinner of the script, audiences will be mostly forgiving. Hound Dog laughs at itself and that is refreshing.