Hong Kong's Serial Dog Killer Comes To Hampstead

Dog Show, New Diorama Theatre ★★★★☆

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 39 months ago
Hong Kong's Serial Dog Killer Comes To Hampstead Dog Show, New Diorama Theatre 4
Photo: Richard Davenport

Hampstead Heath: idyllic spot frequented by ramblers, birdwatchers, locals... and a dog serial killer?

Dog Show at the New Diorama Theatre is not as perky as the title suggests. Instead of battling for best in show, the four central canines are unknowingly fighting to stay alive, as an unidentified enemy sprinkles Hampstead Heath with weedkiller-laced meat.

The play is based on the true story of a serial dog poisoner in 1980s Hong Kong — a mystery which remains unsolved to this day. By transferring the action to Hampstead, Kandinksy theatre company makes Dog Show work for a London audience, many of whom who will be able to recognise the caricatured dog owners as people they've seen out and about.

Against the backdrop of the community we meet four proud owners, each attached to their pets in their own way — their lives criss-crossing across the paths of the Heath, never properly meeting until circumstances bring them together.

Despite the dark subject matter of the play there's still plenty of room for comedy, not least from the characterisation of Pamela, a stereotypical wealthy dog owner who devotes her life to her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Greer.

Just four actors skilfully take on the role of a whole community and their dogs. Constant costume changes make for a challenging watch at first, but once the storylines are developed, the effect is a clever one. Combining the fast pace with the strobe lighting and a variety of music styles makes for a trippy effect, rendering the play part psychological thriller.

Ultimately, such is the interest in the relationships between the humans their dogs, the mystery as to who is doing all the poisoning takes a backseat — we barely gave it a thought until the final revealing scene.

Dog Show is on at New Diorama Theatre until 17 October. Tickets are £15/£12, available here. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 01 October 2015