When SBCC professor R. Michael Gros gave Ken Gilbert and E. Bonnie Lewis of DramaDogs a copy of Peter McDonough’s The Boondawgle Estate last January, he was just looking for a reliable group of seasoned performers to read it at PlayFest 2016. “If it doesn’t grab you within the first 10 pages, don’t give it another thought” is how Gilbert remembers what Gros said when he handed over the script. Little did either know that less than a year later, Gilbert would be directing a fully staged version of the show at Center Stage Theater, or that it would be getting its world premiere in Santa Barbara by popular demand.
Audiences at the PlayFest staged reading in January were floored by the comedy, which is a modern take on the kind of period farce that was such a staple here in Santa Barbara at the Circle Bar B Dinner Theater. There’s an inheritance at stake — of course — and a goofy, useless brother hanging around to thwart every rational move by the protagonist. And there’s also that staple of a classic 1930s farce, the sudden pratfall. But this time that particular moment gets a different treatment — one that’s a great example of what DramaDogs is about. Director Gilbert explained: “We’ve had lots of time to work on the physical aspects of the show, and one thing we decided was important was to keep the set to a minimum, so that the only things onstage are things that are needed by the actors.”
In some cases, and I’ll let what those are remain a surprise, actors encounter obstacles that are in the script but not on the stage in front of them. With this talented cast and some seriously witty, lyrical dialogue, The Boondawgle Estate is sure to make you laugh.