×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Red Dog Howls

"Red Dog Howls," the new play by Alexander Dinelaris at New York Theater Workshop about the generational aftereffects of unspeakable tragedy, is unflinching, thought-provoking, and harrowing.

With:
Rose Afratian -- Kathleen Chalfant
Gabriella Kiriakos -- Florencia Lozano
Michael Kiriakos -- Alfredo Narciso

“Red Dog Howls,” the new play by Alexander Dinelaris at New York Theater Workshop about the generational aftereffects of unspeakable tragedy, is unflinching, thought-provoking, and harrowing. Central to the affair is the astonishing performance of Kathleen Chalfant, as an aged survivor who has spent seventy years living with the gruesome secret at the heart of the play. Chalfant has previously given unforgettable performances in the original New York productions of “Angels in America” and “Wit.” Add “Red Dog Howls” to that list.

The play opens with Michael (Alfredo Narciso) — a third-generation Armenian-American — talking of sins so terrible that they cannot be absolved. The burden of these passes on to following generations, even when they are unaware of the immobilizing secrets that shadow their parents or grandparents.

Much of the action centers on his relationship with the 91-year-old Rose (Chalfant), whom he meets during his investigation into family history courtesy of an enigmatic letter he finds among his deceased father’s possessions. The result is a mystery that takes a horrifying turn when Rose reveals the events surrounding her escape from extermination during the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

Dinelaris’ script is sprinkled only sparsely with ominous hints, and there’s a worrying lack of drama in the early sections of the play. But viewers who stick with it will be rewarded in the final third, when the filters come off; as Chalfant relates the central event of the story, the inhumanity is horrific and all too plainly real.

Give Chalfant a good monologue and she can hold you rapt. Although she drifts through the early stages of the play like a specter, it’s Rose herself who is haunted as the actress masterfully lays the emotional groundwork for the explosion that will ultimately occur. When it does, Chalfant renders the horror and pain of the past with startling authenticity, easily persuading viewers to forgive minor flaws in the writing at the top of the show.

Alfredo Narciso is sturdy as the storyteller caught up in an old family tragedy, with Florencia Lozano plays the smaller role of Michael’s very pregnant wife.

Director Ken Rus Schmoll (Will Eno’s “Middletown”) keeps things moving, with nothing to distract from the power of the text and of the central performance. The physical production is simple, with three playing areas spread out across the wide NYTW stage. Schmoll makes continued use of a melancholy violin in the distance for transitions.

Dinelaris isn’t a well-known name in New York, with local credits including “Still Life,” seen in 2009 at Off Broadway’s MCC Theater as well as additional music and lyrics for the 2003 spoof musical “Zanna, Don’t!” With “Red Dog Howls” and the libretto for the upcoming West End musicalization of the Whitney Houston film “The Bodyguard,” we can anticipate hearing more from him.

Popular on Variety

Red Dog Howls

New York Theatre Workshop; 199 seats; $65 top

Production: A New York Theatre Workshop presentation of a play in one act by Alexander Dinelaris. Directed by Ken Rus Schmoll. Set, Marsha Ginsberg; costumes, David C. Woolard; lights, Tyler Micoleau; sound and original music, Jane Shaw; production stage manager, Megan Smith. Opened Sept. 24, 2012, reviewed Sept. 20. Runs through Oct. 14. Running time: 1 HOUR, 30 MINS.

Cast: Rose Afratian -- Kathleen Chalfant
Gabriella Kiriakos -- Florencia Lozano
Michael Kiriakos -- Alfredo Narciso

More Legit

  • Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works

    Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works as a Movie From Heyday, BBC Films

    David Heyman’s Heyday Films, whose credits include “Gravity,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story” and the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, and BBC Films have secured the film rights to Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s musical “Follies.” “Follies” will be adapted for the screen and directed by Dominic Cooke, a four-time Olivier [...]

  • Tina Turner The Musical

    How 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical' Tells the Icon's Traumatic Story

    It wasn’t the response Tali Pelman had hoped to receive. The group creative managing director of Stage Entertainment had traveled to Küsnacht, Switzerland, with one goal in mind: Convince Tina Turner that her life could be the stuff of a successful stage musical. “We walked in the door,” Pelman remembers. “Tina was already there, and she greeted [...]

  • Ben McKenzie

    'Gotham' Star Ben McKenzie to Make Broadway Debut in 'Grand Horizons'

    “Gotham” star Ben McKenzie will make his Broadway debut in Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” He joins a cast that includes Oscar nominees Jane Alexander (“Kramer vs. Kramer,” “The Great White Hope”) and James Cromwell (“Babe,” “L.A. Confidential”). The show has a strictly limited 10-week run and begins previews on Dec. 23, 2019, before officially opening [...]

  • The Great Society review

    Listen: Brian Cox on 'Succession,' Shakespeare, and the Crisis We're In

    Brian Cox is having a pop-culture moment with “Succession,” the buzzy HBO series in which he stars. But he’s also an accomplished theater actor with plenty of experience doing Shakespeare — and it serves him well in both “Succession” and in his current Broadway show, “The Great Society.” Listen to this week’s podcast below: Cox [...]

  • Scooby Doo Ella Louise Allaire Martin

    Scooby-Doo Live Theater Tour Is Goofy Dane's Latest Adventure

    From its 1969 start as a Saturday morning kids mystery cartoon series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” starring its titular, talking Great Dane and his four teenaged friends, has made adventure its staple. Once Hanna-Barbera’s successor, Warner Bros. Animation, took the leash, Scooby and company became a comic book, a board game, a series of video [...]

  • Tootsie Santino Fontana

    'Tootsie' Ending Broadway Run in January

    “Tootsie,” the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of the 1982 classic film comedy, will play its final Broadway performance on Jan. 5, 2020. When it wraps up its run, the show will have logged 293 regular and 25 preview performances at the cavernous Marquis Theatre, where it sometimes labored to draw big crowds. Last week, “Tootsie” [...]

  • Laurel Griggs

    Laurel Griggs, Broadway and 'SNL' Actress, Dies at 13

    Laurel Griggs, who starred in Broadway’s “ONCE the Musical” as Ivanka, has died. She was 13. An obituary posted to Dignity Memorial indicates she died on Nov. 5, and Griggs’ grandfather wrote on Facebook that her death was due to a massive asthma attack. Griggs made her Broadway debut when she was six years old [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content