I am pleased to announce that Four Dogs and a Bone is an auspicious debut for the newly formed Berkshire Actors’ Theatre because not only are the four actors involved very capable and the little play they have chosen is entertaining, but they have cleverly surrounded themselves with an impressive roster of folks behind the scenes. This may be an “actors’ theatre” but Founding Artistic Director and actress Clover Bell-Devaney knows that theatre is a team sport and the best acting in the world only looks that much better when well directed on a spiffy set under professional lights in nice costumes – especially in an intimate venue where actors and audience are in close proximity.
Many of these folks behind the scenes have made names for themselves with stellar work, both visible and invisible, at larger regional venues such as Barrington Stage and Shakespeare & Company. As a critic, when I see their names, I know that I am guaranteed serious work. To put it crudely, actors are a dime a dozen and a big name can deliver a crummy performance as easily as an unknown can knock it out of the park, but when I see that Andrew Volkoff has directed and Brian Prather has designed the set, I know this company means business!
John Patrick Shanley (1950- ) won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for his first film Moonstruck (1987). Although he has written consistently for the stage and screen since 1982, he did not achieve the same level of success again until Doubt (stage play 2004, film 2008) for which he won the Tony for Best Play, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for a second screenwriting Oscar. So for nearly two decades Shanley slaved away as a “one hit wonder” churning out screenplays and scripts for the stage with little commercial or artistic recognition.