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Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel at Battersea Arts Centre

Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel is an irksomely resonant, aggressively metatheatrical existential tear-down of theatre. An experience, masquerading as theatre, deconstructs and pushes theatre to its very limits in a fascinating post-performance experience.

Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel by Stuart Armitt.
Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel by Stuart Armitt.

Tim Crouch walks in, and crowns himself with a virtual reality headset, apparently entering a classical production of Shakespeare’s King Lear. He then proceeds to tour us around the theatre, articulating who made up the audience, from the Deloitte members club, the restricted view cheap seats and to the chancer who snuck from the standing seats to the second row. It is a fascinating opening to the play, asking who is in the space, and what the story of their arrival to this place was.

The piece slips between Lear’s fool, who faces breaking point, a sardonic, lacklustre standup routine and something lucid, liminal and very difficult to describe. But as the piece plays out, it becomes clear very little will be tangibly understood. It is almost theatre’s ‘state of the union address’, Crouch is so deconstructive, he takes his questioning so far as to question the validity of the experience he curates in the room he is in. There is something violently metatheatrical to this piece, violently dismantling theatre craft, often his own.

Crouch is funny and playful, but there is something deeply calm about it. The piece is laugh-out-loud funny, and grotesque sequences are very entertaining, but the sardonic wit of Crouch belies something darker and more complex. It is a questioning of the very meaning of theatre, but perhaps there is more, it is a testament to the ephemeral, intangible resonance of theatre. There is something post-apocalyptic to this theatre, maybe that’s covid, I think it is something more. It is interrogative, of who we are, who he is and of the liminal between us.

It is bare, the stage is empty, save a mic on a stand and a stool, Crouch has no character, merely dwelling in-between presence and past, performer and person, confessor and comedian.

Within this play is also Crouch’s irritation at the commodification of theatre, and the attempt to understand theatre in tangible, conscious ways. So it is ridiculous that I am trying to summarise this profound experience in under four hundred words, but I will go and see this show again, I think you should see it, it is odd, profound and stays with you.

5 Star Rating

Review by Tom Carter

Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel is a daringly unaccommodated piece of theatre that switches between scathingly funny stand-up and an audacious act of collective imagining. It is an adult take on the atomised world we live in now. King Lear meets stand-up meets the metaverse.

Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel
28 February – 18 March 2022 | 8pm
As part of BAC’s Spring Season
Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5TN

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