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Photo Credit :: Sara Kurlwich
Arts & Entertainment
The Little Dog Laughed at the Cort Theater
By Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
December 7, 2006 
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Douglas Carter Beane loves the unlovable—or at least he loves writing about them. Con artists and movie agents (which is arguably redundant) fascinate him as they work their chameleon wiles to suit their mercenary needs. And when said chameleon is a female, Beane has a field day parading them across the stage to exhibit their fits of unabashed fawning and chronic scheming.

Beane’s latest play, The Little Dog Laughed, has a Medusa at its center by the name of Diane, who, against all odds, makes Beane’s previous femme fatale, Alexa Vere de Vere from his 1997 play, As Bees in Honey Drown, seem very nearly an amateur grifter. Nonetheless, the two women could be related—or perhaps separated at birth. A conniving movie agent, Diane is unforthcoming about her past—with only one brief anecdote to explain her motivations (it concerns sexism at the hands of a powerful producer). What matters far more to Diane than from whence she has come is her overwhelming need for fame and its attendant power.

In The Little Dog Laughed, Diane has the job of keeping her client, Mitchell, in the closet—given that any public acknowledgement of his homosexuality would be, according to her, instant career death. And though she alludes to being lesbian herself, Diane seems far less interested in nestling with another person than with an Oscar for Best Film. When Mitchell finds himself increasingly involved with a New York hustler, Diane goes apoplectic. Not to worry, however, for Beane has taken the pulse of the American populace and realizes that what matters most in this society is a cover on a glossy magazine—and at curtain’s end, Diane has her requisite happy ending.

As for the audience, we’re left with a sour taste—and the question as to why we’ve spent the past two hours with such a heartless bunch of hypocrites. The characters stalking the stage in Beane’s latest are no more substantive than the public personae littering the pages of far too many glossy magazines. If we needed further evidence of Hollywood’s ruthless public relations machinations, a copy of Vanity Fair would have sufficed—and we needn’t have dressed for the theatre.