Kneel! Diamond Dogs, a solo show by Michael Posthumus of mikeylikesit productions currently running in the Toronto Fringe Festival at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, is fantastic. Posthumus’ show, based on a recognition of the power of pop music and the way being a fan can help people in their search for a place to belong, more than delivers on its dramatic–and musical–potential. Kneel! Diamond Dogs is a show with the potential to be a classic.
The story begins with Posthumus’ Damon MacHavoc, a young man terrified of the world, lying in his bed in his parents’ home when he hears a voice. This voice, it turns out, happens to be that of Neil Diamond, his father’s favourite star, drawing him out into the world through the unlikely medium of singing Neil Diamond songs at a local karaoke bar. When David Bowie makes his appearance, lending his very different style and verve to Damon, he’s faced with hard choices. Can his love of the two very different singers be reconciled? Can Damon find his way back into the world for good?
Kneel! Diamond Dogs is a show founded on the recognition that pop music and popular music matter. The act of being a fan, of choosing to commit to something that matters personally, can be very grounding, connecting people to wider communities. Posthumus’ choice of Diamond and Bowie, two artists who have retained devoted fanbases well after each became world-famous in the 1970s, are perfect for illustrating this point for as many people as possible. That a good share of the people in Kneel! Diamond Dogs‘s audiences can be expected to know the songs that Posthumus performs is a bonus.
This one-hour show impresses with its skill, previous performances in Toronto and at last year’s Hamilton Fringe having perfected it. The work of director Rosemary Doyle and stage manager Sarah Posthumus-Atwell literally set the stage for Posthumus’ stellar performance. Posthumus’ acting style is very physical, switching between different poses and postures as he plays one character after another. His vocal talents are remarkable, showing his ability to take on the challenge of voicing different accents when speaking. He can even do this when singing, shifting from Diamond’s New York edge to Bowie’s London plumminess mid-song. Even ignoring its compelling story, Kneel! Diamond Dogs is a pleasure to watch on account of its technical achievements.
Kneel! Diamond Dogs is a marvel, a show that tries to share with its audience the importance and the joy of being a fan and succeeds completely at its goals. Anyone who likes good theatre, good music, or someone who has an appreciation of what it means to be a fan of something, will find a lot to love here.
- Kneel! Diamond Dogs is playing until July 10 at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. (30 Bridgman Avenue)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- July 1st at 6:15 pm
- July 3rd at 5:00 pm
- July 4th at 2:30 pm
- July 5th at 9:45 pm
- July 7th at 12:15 pm
- July 8th at 7:30 pm
- July 10th at 5:30 pm
Photo of Michael Posthumus by Amber Scott.