PPP: Man’s Best Friend

Mar 30 2022 | By More

★★★★☆   Poignant

Traverse Theatre: Tue 29 Mar – Sat 2 April 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

Jonathan Watson turns in a remarkable performance in Man’s Best Friend, the latest Play, Pie and a Pint from Oran Mor at the Traverse.

In Douglas Maxwell’s monologue, Watson is Ronnie, who has been walking his neighbours’ dogs during lockdown (on a purely amateur basis, you understand).

Jonathan Watson. Pic Oran Mor

This appears at first to be a jolly tale, delivered in an exuberant style with a collection of rather obvious observations. However, it soon moves into a more reflective and sombre story, with a chance discovery prompting exploration of Ronnie’s own troubles.

Watson is of course renowned as a comic performer but has proved himself time and again to be equally adept at more tragic material, and he shines here. There is something remarkably humane and accessible in his performance, giving this rumination on lost dogs and lost souls – and the toll the pandemic has taken on physical and mental health – genuine depth.

Maxwell, of course, has considerable form regarding the mixing of comedy and tragedy. However, the shift from the straightforwardly humorous to a more poignant mode is not exactly imperceptible, thanks to a sudden, jarring shift in lighting, sound and directing style.

pace and variation

Fortunately, this is the only criticism that could be levelled at Jemima Levick’s direction, which avoids all of the potential longueurs that can plague one-handers, without resorting to any of the gimmicks that can consequently be used to overcome them.

There is enough pace and variation to make the hour fly by, and particularly good use is made of Gemma Patchett and Jonny Scott’s ingenious set.

The script features well-drawn evocations of other characters (both canine and human) which help to suggest a bigger world, albeit one with Ronnie very much at the centre. This is very much a showcase for Watson, whose portrayal of a bereft, fallible and all too recognisable man makes this production a highly recommended one.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 29 March – Saturday 2 April 2022
Daily at 1.00 pm
Information and tickets: Book here.


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