Review: BARK! The Musical... How the Little Dog Found His Voice

A ropey, long-lived American musical all about dogs.

musicals review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 04 Aug 2018
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Bark! The Musical... How the Little Dog Found His Voice

You’ve heard of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Well, this long-lived transatlantic musical could be a companion piece called Dogs. David Troy Francis’ show has received productions all over America since its Los Angeles debut over a decade ago. Now, a pared-down version cocks its leg at Edinburgh, with its tuneful troupe of canines in tow.

There’s not much of a narrative. All we get is six pooches of varying breed and nationality, rubbing along together in a city park. There’s a Welsh Spaniel. An upper-class English Afghan Hound. A hard-nosed New York Pug.

Every dog has his day. Brian James Leys’ blokey Labrador Retriever sings nostalgically about his childhood crush on Lassie. Dale Adams’ wet-nosed Jack Russell pup wails about his inability to growl with the rest of them. You get the picture. It’s dogs, singing about being dogs, to the accompaniment of old-timey tunes. For 75 minutes.

There are some genuinely good bits when it gets going. Francesca Goodridge choreographs proceedings jubilantly, particularly during a jazzy number about fleas and a nicely harmonised song about the lure of passing police sirens. The six-strong cast are game, bounding around exuberantly throughout like red setters after tennis balls.

But also, it’s a musical about dogs. A musical. About dogs. Complete with trad showtunes and ropey rhymes, and a sincerely questionable routine about a Mexican chihuahua. It’s about as far from cutting edge as you can get. Fine for families, but there are far more exciting things out there.