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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Dog Days

Simon Gray

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Title: Dog Days
Author: Simon Gray
Genre: Drama
Written: 1975
Length: 68 pages
Availability: Dog Days is currently out of print
  • Dog Days was first presented at the Oxford Playhouse in 1976
  • First published in The New Review

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Our Assessment:

B+ : sharp, dark bantering drama

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Dog Days is a play about the dog days of marriage. Peter, an editor, is going through what can be described as a mid-life crisis. He isn't very enthusiastic about his job, and after eight years of marriage to Hilary things don't seem to be going particularly well there any more either. Like so much else, family life -- they have a son, just of school-age -- isn't quite living up to his expectations. He isn't sure what he wants and what he needs.
       Peter's brother, Charles, seems to have a more settled life: his wife keeps getting pregnant (expecting twins at the moment), and he seems to be doing well enough, newly appointed as Assistant Headmaster at a second-tier public school. Peter -- the older, more brilliant brother -- went to Oxford, but he hasn't quite lived up to expectations. He's smart, he's quick, he's brutally witty. But he isn't happy.
       Peter's marriage teeters near breaking up, Peter nudging it not very gently in that direction. He moves out, then, finding himself still dissatisfied, hopes for a reconciliation. Peter thinks when he returns to have it all pretty much figured out, in a bumbling but almost endearing manner, but there are things he fails to take into account.
       Marriage is a difficult business in Gray's world. The characters (only four appear on stage) know essentially no happy couples -- save, possibly, Charles and his wife. And Peter's and Hilary's marriage also turns out to be considerably more complicated than perhaps either had expected.
       Dog Days is also about the two brothers, more alike than they thought or knew.
       The play moves along briskly, sharply, and wittily. Gray finds choice poses for Peter to take, and gives him a quick and dreadfully clever wit. It is a very funny play, but also a painfully funny one, terribly sad beneath the polished wit.
       Very nicely done, if not itself nice, Dog Days tells of difficult relationships and very human figures with a brutal honesty -- and lots of sharp humour.

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Simon Gray: Other books by Simon Gray under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British author Simon Gray (1936-2008) wrote numerous plays, as well as works of fiction and non-fiction.

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