Taking the famous nursery rhyme as inspiration for tying up a messy story in a neat knot, the very dishy dish in Douglas Carter Beane’s comedy The Little Dog Laughed ends up running off with a man who just likes to spoon.
The man in question is movie star in waiting Mitchell Green (Rupert Friend), the play’s eloquent, LA tanned protagonist, with one leg in and one leg out of the metaphorical closet. Struggling with the question of whether sleeping with rent boys makes him gay, his larger than life and twice as loud agent Diane (Tamsin Greig) is on hand to answer such questions with a resounding and ear piercing ‘No’, her manic desire to keep him as far inside the closet as possible threatening to destroy her expensively dressed and well groomed facade of success.
When Alex (Harry Lloyd), a handsome, preppy younger man from the wrong part of New York with a drama queen girlfriend at home, comes into the picture, a bizarre love triangle forms. With no one quite sure who they should be going home to at the end of the night, Mitchell is led down the slippery path to seeing his name no longer in lights but on the credits of art house movies, much to Diane’s disgust.
Carter Beane’s comedy hands full control to the screeching tones of the ballsy and, quite frankly terrifying, Diane. Greig plays her with a slightly irritating Ruby Wax edge, strutting across the stage with all the confidence you would imagine a Hollywood agent to possess, spitting out dry, hilarious one-liners as she masterfully pulls on the strings of all her puppets.
Mitchell, the most important of her playthings, is played convincingly by Friend, his suave, sophisticated but perpetually lost character vastly contrasting to the goofy, but clued-up Alex. Caught in the middle of the mess, Gemma Arterton’s slightly vapid Ellen is the one you feel should really be paired with the half sycophantic, half ice-cold bitch Diane. Precocious, edgy, beautiful and in the midst of a quarter life crisis where every last show of kindness or intimate touch she feels, in true LA over the top fashion, might be her last, she is surely the starlet in waiting.
Whilst The Little Dog Laughed doesn’t tackle anything more intellectual than whether or not a man taking his mother to an awards ceremony instantly ‘outs’ his sexuality, the conscious sending up of the sometimes distasteful and ridiculous nature of the entertainment industry makes for a light, sometime hilarious and always engrossing ride.