HEART OF A DOG adapted by Anne Nenarokoff from the novel by Mikhaïl Bulgakov, directed by Jean-Stéphane Roy, with Martin Albert, Eric Goulem, Patricia Marceau, Rafal Sokolowski and William Webster. Presented by Pleiades Theatre in collaboration with Théâtre français de Toronto at Artword (75 Portland). Runs to April 6, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $25-$30, Sunday pwyc. 416-366-7723. Rating: NN
Heart of a dog is more whine than angry bark, and that's just not the way to succeed with a dark satire. The stylized production, adapted by Anne Nenarokoff from a 20s attack on the Soviet system, presents a line of farce-style doors designed by Rudy Braun and lit by Glenn Davidson that promises a Marxist show that's as much Groucho as Karl.
Its central story -- a counter-revolutionary professor (William Webster) tries to turn a dog into a human through transplants, and battles an officious government underling (Martin Albert) -- should be wickedly funny, but often it falls flat. That's partly because Rafal Sokolowski's dog/man is one-note, with anger and pleasure given the same reading. He has the externals -- such as turning around several times before sitting in a chair -- but no vivid internal life.
There's much better work from the secondary figures, notably Eric Goulem and the elegant, slinky Patricia Marceau as the professor's assistants, who exude a whiff of sensuality in their working and social relationship. While director Jean-Stphane Roy stages some episodes cleverly, other scenes are long-winded and blunt the story's intended sharpness. firstname.lastname@example.org