PPP: Hotdog

Mar 27 2024 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆   Powerful

Traverse: Tue 26 – Sat 30 Mar 2024
Review by Hugh Simpson

Hotdog by Ellen Ritchie, this week’s lunchtime theatre at the Traverse, is a powerful if uneven production, extremely well performed.

The latest A Play, A Pie and a Pint from Òran Mór with the Macrobert Arts Centre features Chloe-Ann Tylor as a student who is getting ready to go to a party dressed as the foodstuff from the title. It soon becomes clear that the costume, like her erratic behaviour, is an attempt to disguise a terrible event in her recent past.

Chloe-Ann Tylor in Hot Dog. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

Tylor’s performance is exceptional, and goes a long way to disguising any shortcomings in the rest of the production, Hotdog’s self-sabotaging behaviour being presented with energy and empathy.

The other presence onstage is Ross Allan, who starts off as a stage hand but becomes more involved in the action as the play progresses.

There can be no doubt about the intelligence and tact with which Ritchie handles a very difficult subject matter, and the writing is engaging, elegant and often profound.

There are odd moments that are less compelling, with the structure of the monologue not always convincing. The transition to a two-hander at the close, however well this scene is performed by both Tylor and Allan, also jars.

traumatised

There are also moments of comedy that sit rather oddly. Like so many plays in the PPP strand, this is billed as a ‘dark comedy’. On this occasion, the main character is so clearly traumatised from the play’s opening that any humour is distinctly uncomfortable. The jokes, furthermore, consist of little more than saying words such as ‘quinoa’, ‘Waitrose’ or ‘vegan’ for an easy laugh.

Chloe-Ann Tylor in Hot Dog. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

Kenny Miller’s design is much more expansive than the regular PPP set – which may be one of the reasons why this is in Traverse One rather than Two – and, while some of it forms an indispensable part of the narrative, overall it is just too busy.

Becky Hope-Palmer’s direction is sympathetic, but at times the temptation to use the whole acting space proves a little too much, to the detriment of the more intimate moments.

Perhaps this would have had more impact in the more usual, much smaller space of Traverse 2. It does not always fill the larger auditorium, despite the undoubted quality of Tylor’s performance.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 26 – Saturday 30 March 2024
Daily at 1.00 pm
Details and tickets: Book here.

Chloe-Ann Tylor and Ross Allan in Hot Dog. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

ENDS

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