British Columbia

Dog park operetta unleashes romantic canine drama in Vancouver

This 'darkly funny fusion-operetta' combines modern jazz and rock with musical theatre, exploring the tensions and romance between lonely individuals at the dog park.

Fugue Theatre's Off Leash is set in a dog park, and the actors play both the canines and their human owners

The production about dogs and dog play, tells the story of how canines help offset loneliness in Vancouver, B..C.. 2:15

A theatre company in Vancouver has unleashed a play that combines musical theatre and opera, and is set in a dog park — and the actors play both the canines and their human owners.

Fugue Theatre's Off Leashwhich opened Oct. 30 and runs until Nov. 8, explores the tensions and romance between four individuals whose lives intersect at a Vancouver dog park.

'Darkly funny fusion-operetta'

"There is a whole life that happens, and there is an entire community, at the dog park," said director Sarah Rodgers about the play which is being billed as "a darkly funny fusion-operetta".

Lucia Frangione, the award-winning playwright who wrote the piece, said she was inspired by events at the Trout Lake dog park in 2014.

Local dog owners rallied against the city's plan at the time to drastically reduce the size of the park.

"I was inspired by how that galvanized the community," she told The Early Edition host Rick Cluff.

"Beforehand us dog owners would sit in isolation or stand in the rain, and maybe ask the name of the dog, but never really strike up a conversation with each other.

"So I thought, 'Isn't this so Vancouver?' We are one of the most liveable cities in the world, yet arguably also...we are one of the loneliest."

Frangione said she describes this fusion-operetta as "dark comedy".

The four actors are joined onstage by the musicians, and the music — composed by Timothy Benton Roark — blends post-jazz and rock genres with music theatre.

Dogs and humans

Frangione said she decided to have the actors playing the dogs as well because it would be funny, and because the pets would represent their owners' "neuroses".

"It makes psychological sense that the dog pops out once in a while and acts out, it's their inner, wild nature that shows up."

She said the message of the play is ultimately about the power of community.

"Everybody's going to have their thing, they're going to have their bark, their issue that hopefully if you can accept, they can accept it back."


To hear the full interview with writer Lucia Frangione listen to the audio labelled: Actors play dogs and their human owners in Vancouver operetta

With files from Kiran Dhillon

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