Kat Murrell

Holly Hughes walks into a bar…

Theatre Gigante presents Holly Hughes, a legendary performance artist, at Paddy's Pub.

By - Jul 20th, 2012 01:43 pm

Holly Hughes is a character — a real one, as the performer and writer of The Dog and Pony Show, presented by Theater Gigante.

hughes-hollyThe premier of this one-person show, given Thursday, unfolded as a mix of things. The  show is something like a scruffy, tender mutt: part theater, part stand-up comedy, part memoir mixed with stories and embellishments, plus a few video clips for good measure. It is like being at a cocktail party with a host who brazenly runs through an array of stories from sweet and quirky to acerbic and bawdy, always with a sense of wit and good fun.

Hughes does not explicitly propose to examine the human condition, but such an examination comes through, particularly from the perspective offered by her own life. Hughes lived in New York City and now has set up home base in Michigan with her partner, Esther, their nine pets, and a sectional sofa described as “boat-like.” Not all of the evening’s dialogue is related to furry-friends, however. Feminism, fashion, the Wizard of Oz, gay and lesbian identity swirl in the mix, one topic segueing into another the way conversation ambles along over the course of an evening. As a performed work, some transitions were slightly hard to catch at their outset, but Hughes’ pace kept the energy going. Old photographs with owners and dogs accented the act of storytelling.

Hughes — in a black dress, yellow heels, and multicolored hair — is an animated performer. She possesses an overflowing palette of expression in face and voice. Hughes has a commanding presence, but she did not overplay her position in the intimate upstairs room at the very Irish pub. Seeing the show feels rather like spending the evening with a particularly outgoing acquaintance whose natural charm allows her to regale the crowd with her tales.

As Hughes noted, the canine-centric tales fit the venue’s history. The owner’s original business at the location was a pet grooming salon. Entirely apropos.

The Dog & Pony Show, written and performed by Holly Hughes and presented by Theatre Gigante, continues at 8pm, July 20 and 21 at Paddy’s Pub, 2339 N. Murray Avenue. Tickets are $25 at the door and include a free glass of wine or beer. Cash or check only.

Categories: A/C Feature 3, Theater

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