Dog Company's Day of the Dog


Doug Bradley:
That day itself is a strange blur in my head. We couldn’t fit everything in out Transit Van; we had to finish building the set in the British Council and I don’t think it was finally finished; I do have a clear memory of being sewn into my costume by Jane as showtime approached. It was that kind of day. I’m not ashamed to say that somewhere in the midst of it all I was just about reduced to tears. I seem to remember Clive coming up with some incredible imaginative solution to the problem of an unfinished set. And, of course, the show had to go on. And, incredibly, it went rather well if my fuddled memory is anything to go by. There was a supreme irony in the fact that, having spent several years performing in silence, we were now presenting a play awash with words to an audience that mostly comprised foreign students who couldn’t understand a word of it.

My character was one of Clive’s greatest creations: the highly sophisticated sweet-toothed fascist patriarch Louis Erasmus Sugarman, vast in intellect, evil and girth. He was an absolute joy to play and I wish I had had more chance to settle into the character. As it was, we had one performance at The British Council and then moved on to a tiny Fringe theatre called Theatre Space which was off Trafalgar Square for a few performances to the proverbial two men and a dog (or two lesbians and a budgerigar, if you prefer) and that was about it, I think. What critics came rather cold-shouldered us, I think, but precise recall is hazy from this distance.

The chaotic production of Dog was in no small part responsible for the altogether more professional productions that followed – we weren’t going down that road more than necessary. Of all Clive’s plays it, along with The History Of The Devil, is the play I would most like to re-visit with a budget to match the scale of ambition of Clive’s text. The lighting alone I always longed to see done justice to. The play covers a single day from first to last light – it’s a day that should be familiar to Clive’s readers, too: the hottest day of the year when the ants fly, clothes are shed, inhibitions abandoned, customs overturned and people turned into dogs, or vice versa. I imagine a vast semi-circular bank of lights, like an upturned bowl over the stage with the light traveling like the sun from the rose-pinks of dawn stage left through the white heat of mid-day overhead, declining to the smouldering fires of sunset stage right.

I always thought we should have passed it off as an undiscovered masterpiece by an obscure South American poet and playwright: it would have run for months at the National Theatre. Mention of Jane Wildgoose leads me to make a recommendation to you all to visit the Wildgoose Memorial Library. Go to You’re in for a treat, I promise you.

The Pinhead costume designed byJane Wildgoose and the Wildgoose Memorial Library

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