Southwark Playhouse, London – until 31 August 2019
Dogfight The Musical, based on the 1991 film Dogfight, premiered Off-Broadway in 2012. The dogfight is a contest between US Marines who are leaving for Vietnam in 1963. On their last night in San Francisco, they challenge each other to go on a date with the ugliest girl in town; each of them puts $50 into the pot, and the winner takes it all.
Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, a girl who works in a diner, but soon she finds out about the game and leaves. Eddie feels compelled to go apologise, and they spend the rest of the night together.
Dogfight, cleverly directed by Dean Johnson and with the musical direction of Leo Munby, it is a different and somehow unique show, with a second half stronger than the first one and a moving ending.
The narration flows well and the love story between Eddie and Rose feels genuine and natural and never corny or sappy. As it is to be expected from Pasek and Paul, who have created the score, a lot of the music is enjoyable and catchy, especially Rose’s ‘Before It’s Over’ and the upbeat opening ‘Some Kinda Time’.
The small space of the Southwark Playhouse and the adaptable set give a powerful feeling of intimacy. All the movements and dancing acts (choreographed by George Lyons) work well considering the limited space available.
All the members of the cast play their roles with conviction and emotions. Claire Keenan is a vulnerable and naïve Rose, while Stephen Lewis-Johnston is great in his transformation from bully to hopelessly-in-love man.
BTA’s Dogfight is an entertaining love story, full of heart and soul. An emotional discovery, well worth a trip to Southwark Playhouse.
It runs until 31 August.
Photo: Eliza Wilmot