My Life with the Dogs
Charming music and characters mask a flimsy tale
This article is from 2009.
The members of New International Encounter have become quite the Fringe favourites over the past five years, as the long, long queue stretching from the Pleasance testifies, and it is easy to see why audiences love their charming, funny and touching performances of tales with an eastern European bent. The latest is the true story of Ivan Mishukov, who, running away from home at the age of four, lived with wild dogs on the streets of Moscow for two years.
From the opening scene, where it’s lighters out for the Scorpions’ 1990 political anthem ‘Wind of Change’, music plays an important role in this play: be it folk melodies or pop, NIE understand the emotional power of song. The canine mannerisms of the three ‘dogs’ are carefully observed and beguilingly accurate, as is the creepy pathos of the would-be child abuser ‘Uncle Yevgeny’.
It’s very much a child-sized adventure: little happens in the story, but the charm is all in the bi-play, the interactions on and off stage, and the daft (occasionally erring on the side of stereotypical) characters. The many likeable elements of this production do delight in the heat of the moment, but ultimately those moments fail to form a satisfying and lasting whole.