Anton Cross: Good Dog
By Caro Moses | Published on Thursday 2 March 2017
We first told you about Tiata Fahodzi’s ‘Good Dog’ when its tour launched at Watford Palace Theatre in February, so you may already have seen it; luckily the tour ends at The Albany, so you haven’t missed your chance to see this topical, political monologue written by Arinzé Kene.
I wanted to know more about the play, and about the young and talented actor who stars in it, so I put some questions to performer Anton Cross.
CM: Can you start by telling us what happens in ‘Good Dog’ – what is the play about?
AC: Good Dog explores faith and the struggle to keep your faith when life doesn’t play along. The play follows my character (Boy) and his encounters with the people in his community. He’s been taught that good things come to good people so he endures being bullied at school, neglected at home and growing pains in the hope of being rewarded with a bike he’s had an eye on for years. However, his faith in “being good so goodness will come” gets pushed to its limits over the ten years that we follow him – from boy to man.
CM: How would you describe your character?
AC: Boy is extremely observant as a result of the neglect he faces. He’s curious, he’s driven, through all his trials and tribulations he shows himself to be very courageous. But he’s also flawed and we often see him slip. The best thing about ‘Good Dog’ is that Boy is like any other boy, I think a lot of people will see themselves in him.
CM: What broader themes does the play explore? Does it have political points to make?
AC: Absolutely. The estate that the play makes its home is full of the personal and the political. Community is a big one – the people and places that make you who you are. Western concepts of beauty, the challenges of being a single parent, wanting more for your children but society not providing the means, marriage and sustaining a relationship over many years, failed dreams, absence of role models and aspirations, minimum wage jobs and the realities of bringing up a family on zero hour contracts, how young people are treated and regarded, the challenges of running a small business, how we care for those who are the most vulnerable – I could go on. ‘Good Dog’ holds a mirror up to our society and so the politics within the play are infinite.
CM: I think most people will be more familiar with Arinzé Kene’s acting work, but can you tell us a bit about him has a writer?
AC: ‘Good Dog’ is such a visceral play, so I know Arinzé is talented at capturing real life and articulating it authentically on paper. ‘Good Dog’ feels so familiar – I recognise it from my own experience of growing up in London.
CM: Has he been involved with this production at all?
AC: Yes. We picked apart the script together, and he sat in on an early run through of the play. He’s been so supportive and has given me the best advice!
CM: How challenging is it to perform all by yourself? Do you find it easier or harder to perform without other cast members?
AC: Definitely harder! It’s daunting when you haven’t got other actors to bounce off, on stage or off. There’s no hiding.
CM: Given that it’s a one-to-one situation, how does your relationship with the director work?
AC: Firstly, Natalie’s put together the best team. She’s been so accommodating, working our schedule around what I’d need to handle the play. She knows how big a task ‘Good Dog’ is for me, for all of us really. I’m very aware I’ll probably never have special one-on-one treatment like this again so I’m definitely grateful.
CM: What’s coming up next for you?
AC: Well I’ve been lucky enough to act in new plays so I’m hoping to be involved in more new writing. We’ll have to wait and see!
‘Good Dog’ is on at The Albany from 6-11 Mar, see this page here for more info.