Rosalind Blessed’s The Delights of Dogs and the Problems with People recently ran at The Edinburgh Fringe and now transfers to The Old Red Lion Theatre as part of a double bill of Blessed’s work, running on alternate nights with Lullabies for the Lost.
Robin and James are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, but it’s really only James who is celebrating, because they’ve actually been separated for two years. Robin appears to have moved on with her life, but at the funeral of one of their rescue dogs the couple reminisce separately to the audience about their time together as a couple.
From meeting at University, to camping trips and a shared love of dogs, they initially seem like an ideally suited couple, but towards the second half of the play a darker image begins to appear. The charming and likeable James (Duncan Wilkins) reveals himself to be something far more sinister, and the disturbing twist hits the audience full force.
Like Lullabies for the Lost, The Delights of Dogs and the Problems with People deals with issues of self worth, and mental health issues. Here, those themes are more nuanced, and Blessed’s skilled writing teases them out over the course of the play.
While the majority of the story is compelling, there are times when it feels overly padded, with scenes and dialogue that do nothing to add to the story, but instead hold it back from flourishing in to the powerful piece of drama it so nearly is.
The Delights of Dogs and the Problems with People will certainly resonate with its audience, and the darker direction it takes towards the end is certainly grabs our attention, but too often it strays in to a different kind of territory, a problem that detracts from the delights of Blessed’s work.