Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Bad Dog
Olney Theatre Center

Also see Susan's reviews of Cake Off and Beautiful - The Carole King Musical


Holly Twyford and Emily Townley
Addiction, and how people deal with it, has become a common subject for dramatic treatment, but Bad Dog, Jennifer Hoppe-House's play now receiving a "rolling world premiere" production at the Olney Theatre Center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, looks beyond the person with the abuse problem to the people who surround her—and it's both harrowing and bitterly funny.

Director Jeremy B. Cohen brings great clarity and vision to the story of Molly Drexler (Holly Twyford), a screenwriter who had been clean and sober for almost 10 years until the day she had several drinks and drove her car through the wall of her living room in Sherman Oaks, California. Tony Cisek's scenic design and Dan Covey's lighting design present the interior of a comfortably appointed two-story house, ordinary except for the gaping hole patched with plastic garbage bags and duct tape.

Molly's family has been through her problems before, so they converge on the home Molly shares with her wife Abby (Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan), a psychologist, and try to help her move through it. They are an outspoken and combative group—sisters Linda (Emily Townley), a journalist, and Becky (Amy McWilliams), a full-time homemaker with money issues; mother Lois (Naomi Jacobson); and father Walter (Leo Erickson) with his second wife, Sondra (Gladys Rodriguez)—and shouldn't all be in the same room in the best circumstances. It doesn't help matters that various members of the family contribute pot and a bottle of Scotch to the proceedings, not to mention the fact that at least one of the guests is a nasty bigot.

Twyford, with her four Helen Hayes Awards, excels in playing characters with deep flaws but an underlying integrity, and Molly is a great fit for her. The other standouts are Townley, who manages to make Linda angry but not off-putting; the indomitable Jacobson; and Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican actress who previously played the role in Orlando, Florida, and grabs the attention with her sly delivery of sometimes outrageous lines.

Bad Dog is not easy to watch, especially as the sisters recount the casual violence of their upbringing and their mother shares her decades-old grievances, but it's worth the effort.

Olney Theatre Center
Bad Dog
September 30th - October 25th
By Jennifer Hoppe-House
Linda Drexler: Emily Townley
Becky Drexler: Amy McWilliams
Abby Cory: Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan
Molly Drexler: Holly Twyford
Lois Drexler: Naomi Jacobson
Walter Drexler: Leo Erickson
Sondra: Gladys Rodriguez
Cop/Kaufmann/Contractor: Carlos SaldaƱa
Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road
Olney, MD
Ticket Information: 301-924-3400 or www.olneytheatre.org


Photo: Nicholas Griner


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