In The Shadow Of The Black Dog, written by Daniel Hallissey and presented by All The Pigs, tells the story of Alquist, and will be in Edinburgh for most of August. An endearing, raw comedy, the story takes place in the present, whilst the narrative includes flashbacks that inform the audience of significant events from his past and the motivations that lead Alquist to challenge his beliefs about what it means to be a man in today’s world. Writer and performer, Daniel, spoke with The Fountain about what inspired the show as well as his wider plans regarding Mental Health.

TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?

We can’t wait. To be part of the Edinburgh Fringe is an incredible experience.

TF: In the Shadow of the Black Dog certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?

An endearing, raw comedy, the story takes place in the present, while the narrative includes flashbacks that inform the audience of significant events from his past and the motivations that lead Alquist to challenge his beliefs about what it means to be a man in today’s world.

TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?

The catalysts for writing IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLACK DOG are BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. My best friend died. Soon after, I became ill and was sitting in a hospital emergency room, alone and scared believing I wouldn’t have long to live. I felt unable to call anyone for support to be with me.  

Months later, I was chased down by two men on a moped, wielding knives, threatening to kill me and I narrowly escaped. After the experience of these events a thought has stayed with me I haven’t been able to shift: I don’t know if I can save myself. I eventually reached out to my mates and found we were all harbouring the same fears about being a man or not a good enough one.

This story is about confronting fear, embarrassment and pain, learning it doesn’t work if we keep avoiding the root causes and staying quiet. We can’t just put on a mask and convince ourselves everything will be OK. The way to break this cycle of hurt and suffering and to be able to move on is to be willing to ask questions, address the underlying reasons for our unhappiness and engage with others so we can better understand ourselves. Only then can a better life be possible, as we stop trying to survive each day and start to live.

TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?

Encourage people to start talking more openly about men’s Mental health, having watched In the Shadow of the Black Dog. We’ve been before. Everyone can get so caught up in trying to organise and promote their show, they forget to enjoy the experience.

TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?

I’m really looking forward to watching The Boxer By James McNicholas.

TF: And what are your future plans beyond In the Shadow of the Black Dog?

We’re working with the Criterion New Writers scheme developing a comedy about Cornwall going to war against China.

You can see In the Shadow of the Black Dog at Assembly Rooms from 1st – 23rd August at 18:30. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com