Hair of the Dog – Tristan Bates Theatre – Review
by Eamon Somers
Run now finished – June 24th-29th at 7:45 P.M
Luckily, I hadn’t read the press release and therefore didn’t know until the show was over that the story was based on real events. Real events usually mean that dramatic and entertainment values are sacrificed to historical accuracy. In this case, a play about a bunch of fraternity boys getting drunk is such an everyday occurrence that historical accuracy could never be challenged. But then Hair of the Dog is a dramady (I googled it and learnt that dramady is a mixture of drama and comedy!) Luckily, I didn’t know this at the time either.
After the comedic inflation of the blow-up whale(?) with the long pointy (innuendo potential) snout, we had the sinister mobile phone-lit pledging to the rules of the Iota Omega Fraternity. Eight frat boys in Las Vegas getting tanked up to celebrate the end of their undergraduate education. Evan (frat leader) is reluctant to go too far, he is thinking of his future career, but Mike (newsletter bitch) wants to repeat every wrong decision he’s ever made and demands Evan shares a line of coke with him. [Technical aside: I wondered if they really snorted something or there was a hole in the table they pushed the white powder into?]
We are treated to the expected (don’t say frat, you wouldn’t drop the last two letters of “country” would you?) fraternity, ribaldry, good clean fun, bullying, homophobia, racism, sexism, and subtle (and not so subtle) illustrations of power and rank. When the Asian young man pukes up his drink (everyone knows they can’t handle alcohol) it’s: “drink it, drink it, drink it.” Masculinity approaching actual bodily harm is managed by referring to the Iota Omega rules on good behaviour. We are building leaders of men here, and networks, dependable old boys who can be relied on to remember the frat pledges. And so with sincere apologies, ruffled feathers are smoothed; although we might suppose the feelings will get inflicted later on some unfortunate non-frats.
John, the openly gay character (in a brown suit), stuffing his phone into his underwear while talking to (possibly) the woman who has not prepared the party venue on time shouts: ‘that’s the sound of me fucking you in the mouth if you don’t get a move on,’ seems happy to be as offensive as the rest of them. His date for the evening (Brett from Texas (hayseed/culchie)) turns out to be the catalyst who helps Evan to consider what impact his (so far repressed) desire to go with men might have on his future career.
And then there’s Liz, Evan’s girlfriend. I guess the plot demanded she be there, but surely any sensible woman would have stayed at home or gone off on her own celebration? Anyway, Liz is there and initially (superficially perhaps) wants to replicate the night they met (three years earlier at the start of college) when they were almost arrested having sex on the roof of a factory? She wants danger, (maybe retrospectively read “more connection”) wants to… Well it’s a bit hard to know what she wants. She certainly calls Evan out on his sexist language (i don’t want to be a piece of meat) but passive aggressively puts up with Mike mauling her. Neither Brett nor Liz are in the fraternity. But if Brett is there to liberate Evan’s feelings (however briefly) poor Liz is cast as a container of feelings (notwithstanding her desire for danger); the woman that Evan’s dying father wants his son to marry. The woman who instantly appears to forgive Evan’s behaviour (he abandons her at the party for Brett) although she (what happens in Iota Omega stays in Iota Omega) may never know what he got up to. Mike (I want to repeat every mistake I have ever made – turned realist wise man) tells him “let’s just forget it ever happened,” but perhaps (in a still to be written dramady) and never having cured his obsession with Liz, Mike will reveal all in the hope of finally seducing her.