Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Gone Rogue Productions
From 16 August 2015 to 31 August 2015
Review by Liam Blain
What should have been a heart wrenching musical journey becomes an awkward leap to the finish in Gone Rogue Production’s Dogfight.
Pasek and Paul’s 2012 musical based on the Nancy Savoca 1991 film is set in 1960s San Francisco.
Following Eddie Birdlace (Sevan Keoshgerian) as he returns from Vietnam, the production tells his memories of what life was like before heading to the war zone. He and his friends organise a Dogfight whereby they will find an ugly girl each to bring to a party and, simply, the marine with the least attractive find wins money.
The musical has received great plaudits from both American and European critics alike with some catchy songs and an interesting storyline, however you can’t but feel that Gone Rogue has not done this show justice.
Robin Johnson’s direction is extremely minimalistic using only six boxes as main set pieces. It is an interesting idea although at times appears clunky as the cast manoeuvre their way around the stage carrying the heavy objects.
There are many comedic moments in the piece including some great character acting during the actual Dogfight. However, the emotional ending is not conveyed as strongly as it could be, with Keoshgerian’s Birdlace appearing in pain rather than saddened by the recent events in his life.
The ensemble singing is at times out of tune, which makes for difficult listening at times, especially during the heartfelt song “Give Way”. Angharad Morgan as Rose does a fine job in conveying the beautiful lyrics, however the backing vocals by the chorus are discordant and out of time.
This production is male-heavy, however the talent of the female principals far outshines their male counterparts, leaving the audience longing for a scene injected with some girlish laughter. The men work well as an ensemble but their acting can at times be painful to witness.
Overall, Dogfight certainly has its redeeming features but another week in the rehearsal room would not have been time wasted.