‘There’s sweat, and blood, and blood and sweat.’

The revamped The Owl and Cat Theatre (formerly The Owl and the Pussycat) is set to launch Lou Ramsden’s potent play Breed as part of its Season 1: ‘Intense.’

The play looks at domestic violence, the crisis of a teenager and the dog-fighting world in Ireland. Director JD Ness says there are many themes within the play but acknowledges the importance of the main story of Liv, who fights to withdraw herself from the realms she has inherited through her family’s business in the dog fighting world – this is a world that is hidden from most but also serves to hide normalities of life from the people within.

Ramsden has ostensibly written about the breeding of fighting dogs but her work is about things she is “quite interested in” : the ideas of escape and parenthood and growing up, menace and violence, enclosed worlds that are penetrated by outsiders.

“People are fascinating in general, what Ramsden has done extremely well is given each and every one of these characters their individuality, which highlights the different personas and attitudes of those involved in this business,” says Ness. “And by doing this we can find ways to relate to these characters in a way that we previously might not have been able to, if we were to just focus on the dog fighting aspect.”

“This show highlights that whilst there is this terrible business of dog fighting going on, there are those in which aren’t there by choice, and allows us as a society to perhaps take a step back and see another side.”

While the play is set in Ireland it has won a place fairly and squarely in our local arena given the recent Greyhound racing scandal.

Says Ness: “This is a play that might not have otherwise got a run here in oz, but it is an issue right here under our noses also, there have been cases in a few Victorian areas both north and south, so I feel it is a good time to get some awareness of what is happening out there, that we might otherwise be unaware of.”

The play is shocking, blunt and confronting – as much of Ramsden’s work is. Claustrophobia of the theatre space, building up tension and putting an audience in a space they can’t leave are all trademarks of Ramsden’s writing.

For director Ness it’s all about telling a story, making the audience feel something, changing perspectives and engendering discourse.

“I’d like to think that each audience member will take something different from the show, leaving them with a chance to complete the next chapter or perhaps have them wanting to know more.”

Ramsden’s play is certainly not for everyone. It is cruel and dangerous teavesr8ing in the murky underbelly of dog breeding – a topic in and of itself hard to sell. Something Ness is very much aware of.

“The main challenge with a play like breed is how do you convince an audience to come and see a show based on controversial issue that is disliked by the majority of people, it’s not something that people would like to be exposed to, the old “out of sight, out of mind” scenario, so the challenge is how do we make this less of a “in your face” show and a more “there is more to tell” show…”

May 19 – 30