In the original version of the show, this was Gareth Evans’ ‘warning’ song to Keating following his rise to the leadership, and in retrospect it’s probably a good example of why ‘show, don’t tell’ is the storytelling maxim it is. “Dogs” literalised the notion of the three opposition leaders as the three evil spirits Keating would have to face – the idea was to get a bit of bubble-bubble toil-and-trouble mixed with a ghost-of-christmas-future vibe – but it never really translated live, partly because we never had the budget or time to make it play and partly ‘cos, well, it’s kinda dumb. One of the things that first attracted me to the notion of doing Keating’s political career as a musical was that he would face three enemies (in the form of Opposition Leaders) and the third would bring him down – one of storytelling’s most cherished (if hoary) tropes – but the audience didn’t need to be told that, ‘cos they would see it for themselves. It strikes me now as a little bit of “See? See how the show fits into that tradition?”, to which I as an audience member say “Well, it would’ve if you hadn’t been so egotistically intent on pointing it out.” Much like these notes in italics, I guess, but there you go. Some things never change!
The song’s other narrative function was simply to introduce a note of intrigue and danger after ‘Ruler Of The Land’ – “Act II: The Plot Thickens” and all that – and in that sense it seemed effective. Gareth (brilliantly evoked by Enio Pozzebon in the Drowsy and Belvoir versions) even did his own ghost-story torchlighting as he sang. But the song itself was rewritten as “The Beginning Is The End” for the Belvoir version of the show and, as fun as it was to bob around onstage in black cloaks with glowing eyes, I prefer the updated version.Dogs Of Damnation
Deep in the jungles of Cambodia
Far from the Western gaze
Sits a mystic gypsy prophet in an opium haze
Dark are the secrets she reveals to you
Tales of the future told
And she spoke to me of an evil pure and cold
She said “Dogs of damnation
lope towards your land;
sprung from the loins of Satan,
bred at their Master’s hand.
Dogs of damnation:
Even now they stir upon your shore…”
(Paul:) Gareth, Gareth, tell me more.
Black was the vision she betrayed to me
Black with the sound of doom
And the subtle taste of a nation cased in gloom
“Three is the number of the beast,” she said,
“three of the demon breed…”
Then her face turned white,
and her eyes began to bleed.
“Dogs of damnation,
human to the eye;
three will rise against you,
then the end is nigh…
Dogs of damnation,
now their Master’s call shall be obeyed…”
(Paul:) Gareth, Gareth, I’m afraid.