Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 11, 2024

Review: Great Barrington Public Theater, "Dog People"

Great Barrington Public Theater, Great Barrington, MA
June 7 - 16, 2024
by Suzanne Wells

Photo by Kat Hume
Great Barrington Public Theater unleashed its summer season with a barking success,
premiering “Dog People,” written by the talented Leigh Strimbeck and directed by Judy Braha. This play is a tail-wagging triumph that will have audience members rolling over with laughter and begging for more.

“Dog People” is a comedic romp through the park that explores the complex dynamics between pets and their people. John Musall’s scenic design transforms the stage into a dog lover’s dream; an urban park that’s the ultimate sniffing ground for four-legged friends.
The story follows the lives of two dogs, Betty and Atilla, and their humans, Jessie and Avery. Sheila Bandyopadhyay and Chris Tucci deliver paw-formances that are both fetching and fur-tastic.

As Betty, a young, hyper, and somewhat neurotic goldendoodle, Bandyopadhyay captures the essence of puppy love, energy and curiosity, as she grows to becoming a well-rounded cuddler. Bandyopadhyay’s portrayal of Jessie, an overly disciplined individual, is equally compelling as she navigates the rough terrain of vulnerability and honesty.

Chris Tucci, in a dual role as Avery and Atilla, is simply “paw-some”. Avery’s sentimental and nurturing nature shines as he learns that life, much like a game of fetch, sometimes gives permit a second throw. Atilla, the misunderstood, easygoing, and lovable mutt, discovers that a little self-assertion mixed with kindness can transform a solitary existence to a pack life. Tucci’s performance is so spot-on, one might suspect he had a tail in a past life.

For humans who ever found themselves wondering what an alter-ego canine companion is thinking, this is a must-see play. “Dog People” is a story that reminds us that, whether on two legs or four, we all yearn for connection, understanding, and unconditional love. Plus, it’s a howling good time!