Woof, Daddy

The sound of crashing waves is quickly overwhelmed by a new wave of sound: two women screaming, one calling, "Daddy, daddy!" the other, "Woof, woof!" This is followed by two men, a father (Jason Vande Brake) and son (Andrew Heringer), duck hunting and speaking in a string of incomprehensible philosophical theory and jargon. Initially, Woof, Daddy seems like it's going to be a laborious attempt at experimental theatre, but hold on. Transversal Theater does have a captivating story it intends to tell -- just not in a linear, easily interpreted format.

The most satisfying elements are delivered by Christa Mathis as Julie, a daughter who was lost at sea, and Mercedes Manning as Sparkles, the family dog. Yes, Sparkles speaks and at one point smokes a cigar, but Manning manages to inhabit the canine character without irony, and her interactions with Mathis are priceless. You'll probably sympathize with the character who wishes "we could get outside this ridiculous discussion and communicate like real people." Still, this short play is a fascinating character study.

Presented by Transversal Theater as part of the New York International Fringe Festival

at the Linhart Theatre @ 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette, 3rd floor, NYC.

Aug. 18-26. Remaining performances: Wed., Aug. 22, 7 p.m.; Thurs., Aug. 23, 3 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 26, 1:30 p.m.

(212) 279-4488 or (888) 374-6436 or www.fringenyc.org.