Actor Zachary Fine is living a dog’s life and loving it, at least until the May 25 final performance of Fiasco Theater’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona” at the Folger Theatre. When Fine dons a black clown nose, he becomes the devoted dog Crab and proceeds, as dogs do, to steal every scene he appears in.
The Fiasco company risked a fiasco in casting a human as a dog, but the relationship between Fine as Crab and his master Launce (Andy Grotelueschen) illustrates one of the many varieties of love in the play. Fine, who trained in and teaches clowning, says it’s a joy to be able to be so open-hearted and playful. He feels the audiences’ curiosity the minute he makes his first entrance and has a moment of panic that he won’t be accepted as Crab, but he need not worry.
Fine has no canine companion, but yearns for one. He based his “character” on a golden retriever he grew up with, maybe not the brightest dog in the pack but one with a huge heart. His human inspiration is silent film star Harpo Marx. In an approach that many people might aspire to, Fine’s Crab is genuinely happy in the moment, without an agenda, and satisfied with life’s simple pleasures, like a pat or a snack. When the audience laughs at Crab, it just makes him happier.
Are more dog roles in Fine’s future? As an actor he’s always looking for the next job and wants it known that he will play any breed, from shih-tzu to German shepherd. He also aspires to take on the role of Shakespeare’s Great Dane himself, Hamlet. Just as long as he’s not playing opposite a cat — he’s allergic to them.
Greer is a freelance writer.
by William Shakespeare. Directed by Jessie Austrian and Ben Steinfeld. Set, James Kronzer; costumes, Whitney Locher; lighting, Tim Cryan. About two hours. Tickets, $40-$72. Through May 25 at Folger Theatre, 201 E. Capitol St. SE. Visit www.folger.edu/theatre or call 202-544-7077.