Recounting personal moments with her partner Esther and their dogs, Hughes employs excellent comic timing and meticulously chosen language to conjure up the fear, anxiety, exuberance, and peace of the pet-owner relationship. (But, she can't resist skewering the current politically correct term "guardian," comparing it to "partner" in that both words "reek of Manila envelopes.")
The evening includes many other comedic gems as well.
About man's best friend: "They have a limited vocabulary—mostly verbs, a few nouns, no modifiers. They are heavily dependent on the exclamation point."
About herself (and, yes, the human condition): "I have a hard time living in the present. I've been there."
And, a hysterical deconstruction of The Wizard of Oz that contains the lesson: "You can survive a loveless childhood if you have fabulous shoes."
The final moments of The Dog & Pony Show are sweet and smart. Hughes is compelling as she describes time as "marked by the animals" and extols nature as a poem that humans have stepped out of in order to create another poem called history. She thoughtfully and convincingly twists the human-centric view that we've created dogs from wolves into the simple and right-sized statement, "they chose us."
For more about the Dixon Place HOT! Festival visit www.dixonplace.org.
--Eddie Sarfaty and Court Stroud