Dr John Everyman (Dennis Coard) is a retired and much-loved GP who lost his wife Sophia, when she was just 59.
She was taken 13 years ago and he hasn’t been able to fill that void.
To this day he rages at God for the “theft” of his beloved wife (he calls it “an act of divine spite”), whom he met when they were both at school.
His overarching philosophy in life is "to do no harm” and yet he acknowledges the only way that can be fulfilled is not to care.
John has never been a dog person. Still, six months after the traumatic episode with Sophia, one of his three children gifted him a golden retriever.
The animal was to have been a guide dog, but failed to make the grade because he was too affectionate, too easily distracted and too easy to please.
Known only as “dog”, the hound has been a companion for John ever since, although he is still unsure how he really feels about the canine.
John’s narrative is about life with all its vicissitudes – about his wife and his dog and his dog walker, the happier moments and the concerning ones.
Although essentially a sad tale, the script by Ron Elisha includes amusing episodes.
Elisha himself maintains that due to certain childhood experiences, he has always been somewhat standoffish with dogs.
Although I am usually a fan of Elisha’s work, I must say I found Everyman & His Dog hard going.
To me it lacked spark.
I thought the hour-long piece was largely laboured and mundane. I really struggled with it.
Who wants to hear about everyday life as it is presented here?
While lots of words are spoken, as much as I wanted to be, I simply wasn’t engaged.
Although the play did pick up a tad in the last act, I didn’t care enough about what I was seeing and hearing.
The production needed to grab me early on and it didn’t. I was bored and frequently looked at my watch.
The pacing was too slow throughout. Direction is from Denny Lawrence.
On stage with actor Coard was a beautiful looking dog (I am a dog person) that was meant to remain still for most of the play, but frequently didn’t.
Mind you, asking a pooch to stay put for that length of time with people all around it is challenging, to say the least.
As for Coard, he was personable and tried hard, but forgot his lines more than once and stumbled over a few words here and there.
He was also too softly spoken. The cavernous nature of the Explosives Factory made him hard to hear on occasions.
At the start of the play, the noise of the heating all but drowned him out (until the heater was turned off). At various junctures the rain on the roof didn’t help either.
In summary then, Everyman & His Dog needed tightening and more compelling anecdotes from Elisha.
I regard it as a work in progress that could be vastly improved.
It is on at The Explosives Factory until 8th October, 2022.