As local theatergoers have come to expect, Stray Cat Theatre delivers a stellar and exemplary Arizona premiere production of Kevin Artigue’s, “Sheepdog,” that hits hard and revealingly at many of today’s prime relationship issues.
It focuses on Amina, a Black police officer and her budding relationship with fellow White officer, Ryan, who kills a Black man. Is the murder accidental or even justified? Ryan sees the man pull something from his jacket that he thinks is a knife, but is it? The play discusses just what he saw and how it impacts the two officers’ tenuous bond. It explores the need for complete truth between individuals.
Under Louis Farber’s taunt [sic] and revealing staging, the play is exquisitely performed by Shonda Royall as Amina and Devon Mahon as Ryan. Royall’s part is larger and more decisive as she expresses doubt and struggles to reconcile Ryan’s dramatic action.
Royall is on stage the entire play and lets her reactions fluctuate and modulate as Ryan’s story grows more dramatic and less tenable. It’s a performance that reveals the recently transplanted Chicago actor to be a performer of great depth who constructs her character subtly so her evolution over the situation changes mindfully suggesting Ryan’s action to be less appropriate after what he initially claims evolves as more details are produced.
Devon Mahon does well as he attempts to justify the more obvious and biased Ryan. The pair play off each other with gripping sincerity making the play fully believable as it probes the difficulties of racial partnerships.