Katie & Pip

Fest / Daniel Perks

Charlotte Berry and Rob Gregson introduce Katie (human girl, 15) and Pip (dog) with a diabetes disclaimer. A knowing look between the two sets the scene for this gentle yet deliberate production – stop worrying, it’s fine.

Outside the theatre, Pip the dog is trained to alert Katie to discrepancies in her sugar levels. Inside, she is allowed to be more than a life-saving device.

Katie & Pip effectively emphasises how treatment dogs can be mistreated. In a piece of meta-theatricality, the trio put on canine masks and copy Pip’s actions of being thirsty, of running around until they drop with exhaustion. Suddenly dog agility is less about exercise and more about submission, a show for human amusement at any cost. Katie mimics shooting Pip. Pip obediently dies. The influence that each has on the other’s life is a powerful image.

As Katie & Pip concludes, Katie is given the chance to speak about living with diabetes. This honest narrative juxtaposes the reality of her condition with the abstract nature of the performance piece. Meanwhile, Rob and Charlotte relentlessly heckle her. Katie is seen as sub-human, too – a nuisance, an inconvenience.

Katie & Pip has no conclusion, just an end. The protagonists stand on stage, dreaming about what they could do, could be, could achieve. As the name effortlessly encapsulates, they’re in it together and they’re fine.