Review: 'The Hammered Dog' - 2019 Orlando FringeOrlando Sentinel — Matthew J. Palm Orlando Sentinel
May 15--Three fine actors populate the world of "The Hammered Dog," a new drama from local playwright Michael Freeman. That's to the show's benefit -- and in a sense to its detriment, as its realistic depiction of an emotionally abusive relationship is downright uncomfortable at times. "Oh no," softly breathed the woman next to me at one particularly disquieting moment.
The play has a dramatic opening -- it's no "meet cute" for Sandra and Ted, the couple at the center of the show. She spills a drink on him; he angrily overreacts; she tries to kill herself. Before you can scream "Run, Sandra, run!" they are living together.
A problem with the show is that we never see any actual good moments between the two; so even with a psychological back story for Sandra's character, it's hard to believe she would stay. The emphasis on the awful moments in this relationship also means the uncomfortable tone is relentless.
Thankfully, actor Todd Allen Long comes along to lighten the mood, playing a sympathetic gay friend.
A shocking plot revelation midway through doesn't land as dramatically as it should, but just watch the high-caliber performances directors Laurel Clark and Jim Cundiff gets from these actors. Not given a single redeeming quality to play, Steven Johnson still creates a flesh-and-blood character. Sarah Lockard is heartbreaking -- even more so when the rare moments of happiness flit across her face.
Justin Marshall's original music smartly underscores the drama.
Fringe Factor: Believe the trigger warnings on this one.
Curtain Call: The final twist might not come as a surprise -- and raise some questions of logic -- but this show is about watching a particularly painful journey unfold.
Venue: Red. Length: 55 minutes. Rating: 13 & Up. Tickets: $11.00.
-- May 17, 10:45pm
-- May 19, 5:30pm
-- May 20, 9:30pm
-- May 25, 4:30pm
-- May 26, 9:15pm
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