“I would not advise any actor, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out... it doesn’t work if you’re gay.”
The plot might not be original but Carter Beane’s handling of it is. He shows a deep cynicism for Hollywood and the whole process of film making, painting a world where people will sell their very soul for a hit movie, but done so with such political manoeuvring and manipulation as to put the Borgias to shame. The cynicism here certainly stretches to the play’s ending, this isn’t happy-ever-after fantasy of so many other gay plays. The fast pace of the play, many of the characters talking directly to the audience, fitted well with its setting and subject matter. (I did wonder who the character of the agent was based on, she manipulates all around her with such a razor sharp edge that had to come from some insider knowledge)
The Little Dog Laughed was certainly an enjoyable play, its sharp wit driving it forward; but its cynicism and unflattering view of Hollywood also made a dark and unlimitedly uncomfortable story. Hollywood homophobia is still a nasty and distasteful thing, propped up by so many lesbians and gay men.
As an aside: in 1988 when Ian McKellen came out as gay I was still struggling to come to terms with my own sexuality. His very public coming out meant so much to me. Here was an actor that I admired, who I’d seen on stage, and he was gay too. He was also happy to tell people so. He was the opposite of the stereotypes I had been raised with. It was one of those important, turning points in my life.