BWW Reviews: DOGFIGHT, Southwark Playhouse, August 13, 2014

By: Aug. 14, 2014
Even as ritual humiliation goes, this is particularly cruel: a group of US marines, in San Francisco for one last night in 1963 before they head to war, initiate a game whereby each must lure the least attractive girl they can find to a party, with money in the pot for whoever brings the 'ugliest' date. Though fairly simplistic, the premise of Dogfight - making its European debut at the Southwark Playhouse - is an instantly intriguing one and a highly effective set up for the pathos that's to come.
Quietly charming waitress Rose is the unfortunate selection of Eddie (Jamie Muscato) and is portrayed with such quirky likeability by Laura Jane Matthewson - especially in her party-prep number 'Nothing Short of Wonderful' - that you dread her ever finding out the truth behind the date that's got her so excited. But of course the moment comes, courtesy of semi-toothless call girl Marcy (a gloriously grim Rebecca Trehearn), and though their ensuing duet wonderfully showcases the sublime vocals of both, I couldn't help but feel Rose's reaction to the ruse lacked the sharp sting of truth; as such, her key song 'Pretty Funny' isn't quite the emotional gut punch it perhaps could be.
Still, Matthewson is nothing short of fantastic elsewhere, and her foul-mouthed restaurant outburst is the comedic highlight of the night, with booming laughter obscuring the second half of most of the lines. For a professional debut in particular, hers is a remarkably assured, sparkling performance.
It's Rose's date, though, who impresses most. In the highly capable hands of Jamie Muscato, Eddie Birdlace is a hugely charismatic creation. A guy's guy with substance, he's got enough natural charm to bring the audience (as well as Rose) back on-side after his wholly ungentlemanly behaviour. Muscato is every bit as skilled in the tiniest of moments as in the more demanding of scenes, and if Rose's emotional collapse falters, it's his that really hits home.
It's difficult to warm to Birdlace's fellow misfits; the young cast is energetic and committed but the characters don't do anything to contradict their "pack of jerks" label. (That said, if there's a Fringe Award for Best Drunk Acting in a Musical, Samuel J Weir has my vote.) And unfortunately, their more boisterous numbers are somewhat let down by the lyrics not being especially audible in the space.
That score, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, is melodic, memorable and occasionally moving, and Peter Duchan's fine book, much like the show as a whole, comes into its own in the interaction between Rose and Eddie; there's a line towards the end that could easily slip in alongside "You had me at hello" from Jerry Maguire in the swoon stakes. Staging is fairly basic, though the representation of the Golden Gate Bridge is nicely done, and anyway, in Dogfight's best moments, the talent of this cast and quality of the score are more than enough.


Transport For London Permits Display of OPERATION MINCEMEAT Posters Photo
Transport For London Permits Display of OPERATION MINCEMEAT Posters

TfL have permitted previously banned posters for Operation Mincemeat.

OPERATION MINCEMEAT Announces Fifth Booking Extension to April 2024 Photo
OPERATION MINCEMEAT Announces Fifth Booking Extension to April 2024

Operation Mincemeat: A New Musical  has extended its West End run for the fifth time through 21 April 2024. Operation Mincemeat follows thirty-three hugely successful years of The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre.

Full Cast Set For the UK and Ireland Tour of HAMILTON Photo
Full Cast Set For the UK and Ireland Tour of HAMILTON

Full Casting Announced for HAMILTON UK and Ireland Tour, opening at the Manchester Palace Theatre on Saturday 11 November 2023. Find out who is starring in the show and learn more about the upcoming tour here!

Video: Watch An All New Music Video For Mariposa From the UK Tour of LA BAMBA Photo
Video: Watch An All New Music Video For 'Mariposa' From the UK Tour of LA BAMBA

An all new music video has been released from the musical, La Bamba! Check out the video here!

From This Author - Kevin Sherwin



Recommended For You