Review by Tulis McCall
13 Feb 2010
The phrase “entre chien et loup” refers to that time of day – dusk – when it is difficult to tell the difference between a dog and a wolf. In this nearly good play this phrase also refers to the fine, fine line between a lie and the truth. Jasmina (Nadia Bowers), a Bosnian citizen, has applied for asylum in the United States. In the opening scene with her lawyer, Joseph (John Dagget), her situation and status nearly reaches the hilarious à la Judy Holiday – except for the part about the genocide and the rape.
Joseph is a “by the book” kind of guy. Jasmina is a “whatever gets you what you need” kind of gal. Although she is part of the group “Protect Human Rights Defenders” she is an independent soul. While Joseph worries over the accuracy of his forms, Jasmina worries about staying alive and if her mother, who is in hiding, is safe. Jasmina, a scholar and a teacher, has spoken out against the thugs in Bosnia, and as a result her life has been threatened for a decade. The way to stay alive is to live in the United States. But being alive is not the same as living. It is a substitute.
Soon all the prep-work fades away, Jasmina skips town and Joseph follows her to Bosnia. This is where credibility also skips town and Catherine Filloux’s play rolls to a halt. Suddenly we have a long draw out scene with a waitress (Dale Soules) who is protecting Jasmina. But talking about Jasmina is not nearly as interesting as watching Bowers herself. When she finally appears the play picks itself up again, but it only limps across the finish line. The woman we cared about in scene one has made choices that are fuzzy at best, and the result is that the life at stake is no longer as vital as it was. So we lose interest, but not for lack of trying on our part.
Bowers in particular is a clear and present performer. She knows her craft and is willing to push the envelope because she is secure in her place on the stage. I look forward to seeing much, much more of her and couldn’t help but wish that someone would cast her in a play with Nina Arianda who is appearing in Venus in Fur at Classic Stage. THAT would be something to see. John Dagget is every bit her match and did the best he could with this limited text. The thinner the text, the deeper he digs.
Dog and Wolf tries and comes close to achieving what the author intended. I hope the next time out she trusts herself and her characters enough to leave them alone in a room and see what happens. And I will be the first person to sign up for tickets.
"Often entertaining but definitely off balance."
Anita Gates for New York Times
"Filloux's characters never surprise."
Gwen Orel for Back Stage
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