This piece, written and performed by a group of recent graduates from the Central School of Speech and Drama, has a lot going for it. It follows the story of a group of young adults held together by family ties. But their connection is threatened; by their diverging life choices, their partners and the deteriorating health of their father.
The story is explored with a range of theatrical devices, from fairly naturalistic dialogue, to stylised movement sections, and these different strands sit well together, which is no easy task to achieve. The piece is at its strongest in its linguistic exchanges between individuals; the awkward first conversation of a future young couple, for example, is very well observed. There are also successful moments of physical theatre, during which the ensemble showcase their clear bond as a group.
Technically, the piece is knitted together well and the transitions were simple and slick. Every member of the ensemble is fully invested in the piece. Moreover, the chronology of the story is not straightforward, but the script and performances were clear enough that this was never an issue for comprehension; no mean feat. In terms of content, the piece was less clear however, and it was hard to pick out exactly what was being said or explored thematically. It jumped about a bit in its treatment of the characters, whose actions were sometimes so real and sometimes so hard to understand. In particular, the violence which ended the piece set the whole thing off kilter. It felt like somewhat of an afterthought, chosen to tie up loose ends rather than because it was artistically necessary, or because it made sense for the characters involved.
Nevertheless, this group has a huge amount of potential. Alan We Think You Should Get a Dog is funny and carefully made, looking at the evolution of a nuclear family with masterful skill in many different theatrical techniques.