Mac Wellman’s The Offending Gesture at the Connelly Theater is well acted and sung by an all female ensemble. This coproduction is between the Tank and 3-Legged-Dog and concerns dogs, Iraq, the sandbox of international relations and musical cats make up this absurdist musical. It seems a Finnish dog named Jackie (the adorable Kristine Haruna Lee) has learned to perform the Nazi salute on command. The Germans are offended especially Noble Wolf (Hitler) because his own dog Blondi (the dry and entertaining Abby Rosebrock), cannot seem to perform the salute herself. The result is tensions between the two nations so the two dogs to come up with a plan in order to save Jackie’s owner and Finland. The dogs, wonder; what is ‘dog,’ and what is ‘human.’ The dogs figure the best idea is for Germany to invade Iraq instead, since Noble Wolf dislikes Winston Churchill (who created Iraq). There are singing Mooncats, who live on the moon and offer narrative wisdoms via song.
Layla Khoshnoudi as Noble Wolf is played hilariously dictatorially. Meghan Finn keeps the ridiculousness like a commedia del arte performance. The haunting music by Alaina Ferris is delivered like a Greek chorus howling at the moon in perfect pitch, thanks to Ms. Ferris, Catherine Brookman, Starr Busby, Julia Sirna Frest, Kristine Haruna Lee and Lacy Rose. Mac Wellman immerses us in a new world that almost seems like a parallel universe. Though incredibly poetic, it did get a little repetitive. The set (Christopher & Justin Swader), sound design (Eric Sluyter) and lighting (Brian Aldous) are all extremely well done.
In a world gone mad maybe we should question what is dog and what is human.
The Offending Gesture: The Tank and 3-Legged-Dog, Connelly Theater, 220 E. Fourth St. until January 23rd.