The Bitches' Box

New Zealand comic actors Emma Newborn and Amelia Guild have brought to the Fringe a show about life on a Kiwi farm, as told through the eyes of its resident dogs. We meet a pair of Jack Russell bitches in heat; a gangsta housedog (or housedawg) and a retired old military Labrador. They tell anecdotes, converse and scratch around in a convincingly doggy fashion; it is unsurprising, then, that most of the humour centres on sex, bottoms and other animalistic gags.

The pompous old Lab, Montgomery-Smith, is the funniest character by far. Emma Newborn drools what could literally be buckets of spit onto the floor, eclipsing the contents of her speech with her contorted face. To begin with, all of the other characters have us howling with laughter, but it must be said that after the first quarter of the show the novelty wears off; jokes that centre on the dirty sexuality of the bitches and the yappy horniness of the terriers get a bit ruff, like any humour based on shock factor is bound to. Fenton, the rapping housedog, was never funny to begin with; the trope of the un-cool gangsta is long overdone. There wasn’t that much of a narrative, and sometimes the script seemed to get a bit lost; it was hard to sniff out the purpose of an emotional monologue from the old bitch Red about a dog she slept with who was shot.

It wasn’t un-funny – at points it was pawsitively hilarious – but the jokes didn’t go much farther than the dirty, doggy toilet humour which is most obvious for canine subjects, and since there wasn’t much plot, by the end it all got a bit tired.

Both actors do a great job of imitating their subjects, creating believable characters for the different dogs: even though not always great, they are a likeable pair. This show may not be the dog’s bollocks, but it is a tail-wagging fifty minutes of doggy-style fun.

Reviews by Charlotte Goodman

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Performances

The Blurb

(noun) kennel used to separate a bitch on heat from other dogs to prevent knotting (breeding). Comic actresses Emma Newborn and Amelia Guild present life on a New Zealand farm through the eyes of six hilarious dogs.

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