Little Dogs is an energetic, contemporary take on Dylan Thomas’ short story Just Like Little Dogs, in which men with homes to go to instead choose to walk the streets of Swansea. Frantic Assembly has cleverly re-imagined the lost souls of Swansea’s night times from Thomas’ young man years to the present day, translating this feeling of lost limbo to today’s teenagers fighting their nightly hormonal wars with Thriller-style dance offs.
The promenade production begins with a scrawny, agitated teenage boy (Darren Evans) sat in a chintzy family room, while a concerned and ghostly maternal figure (Sian Phillips) watches over him. He frets, twitching limbs and net curtains, before finally allowing her to comfort him. At the point of the hug the set splits open, casting the boy out into the urban playground where his peers lay in wait.
The audience, like Evans, are thrown into the midst of the action and batted from scene to scene. Across the city, the sparky cast tell tales of beating hearts and amusingly relate the rules of modern mating rituals - dropped gazes and play fighting, jealousy and trickery.
The action moves from car park to club toilets, where the young try to find their way in the fug of sex, booze and vomit in scenes that echo The Paper Birds’ touring hit Thirsty. Therein lies one of the major flaws of the show, much of the teenage bonking and bravado has been seen before, and at times dramatic weight is lost in the flurry of movement. The conceit of Phillips playing Swansea is also lost on the audience until the flamboyant musical finale.