The Southwark Playhouse houses another great show with Dogfight – one of the most anticipated new musicals to come to London this year. Based on the 1991 film starring River Phoenix, it tells the story of a group of marines about to go off to war in Vietnam. For their final night of frivolity the boys decide to have a Dogfight party (where each of them competes to bring the ugliest girl they can find). Eddie meets Rose in the coffee shop she works in and takes her on her first ever date to the party. Of course she is not amused when she finds out she was only invited as part of a competition (I was expecting a Carrie-esq melt down which sadly didn’t happen) and runs away. Will Eddie make it up to her? Is there even any point when he is going off to war the next day? Will he ever even come back alive?
Dogfight is an interesting mix of familiarity and newness. Musically I felt like in was listening to the sequel of Jason Robert Browns The Last Five Years (where Jamie goes off to war and has to leave Cathy behind). However the large ensemble numbers and dark battle scenes gave this show a feeling of what it is like to be at war. A scary feeling that forces you to feel the way many people are right now, fighting for their country.
Laura Jane Matthewson steals the show in her professional London stage debut as Rose Fenney. Her innocent looks and Alicia Silverstone beauty makes you believe she is as pure as she portrays. Jamie Muscato has an impressive string of shows under his belt including Les Miserables, Rock of Ages and most recently the National Theatre production of The Light Princess. He manages to convey the hard faced marine exterior with the soft loving interior.
Amanda Minihan is becoming a familiar face now, having just finished playing Nettie Fowler in Carousel at the Arcola and Mrs Spencer in Merrily We Roll Along in the West End. Her versatility was clear, playing both a mother and a hooker and lights up the room with her smile. Rebecca Trehearn plays toothless prostitute Marcy with humour and is reminiscent of Julia Roberts friend in Pretty Woman.
Dogfight, written by Peter Duchan, with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul is a great new musical with some fresh young talent and impressive vocal performances. Well worth popping down to the Southwark Playhouse for a little look.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Dogfight is playing at the Southwark Playhouse until 13 September 2014. For tickets visit http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/index.php/the-large/dogfight/