DOGFIGHT: Ben Pacek and Justin Paul, from the film by Nancy Savoca
Old Joint Stock Theatre
Runs: 2h 20m, one interval, to 16 August
Tel: 0121 200 1892
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 05 08 15
Energy and commitment carry the show
The Old Joint Stock Music Theatre Company has grabbed the opportunity to stage this dynamic musical following its success in London last year. In some ways it’s an entirely conventional musical – boy meets girl, boy loves girl, they are parted, they are reunited. But in many ways it’s unconventional too. While we sympathise with the three main soldiers and their conscription into the Vietnam war – Birdlace, Boland, Bernstein, the three Bees – we also intensely dislike their misogynistic attitudes; the Dogfight of the title is a competition to see who can take the ugliest girl to a dance.
Adam Carver brings out these tensions well in his production; though he has rather under-cut the power by casting a very attractive young woman as Birdlace’s girl, Rose.
Hannah Kilroy plays Rose well – going for her naiveté rather than her physical appearance. This works well enough in its own terms and Kilroy makes a strong contrast to Nicholas Tuck’s boorishness as the ‘jughead’ Birdlace. But the sharp edge is blunted. When they finally discover each other in the second half, they both carry the scene beautifully in a truly moving moment. Tuck’s emotional ending is very well handled, though the writing of the final moment ‘Welcome home’ is unfortunate in its sentimentality.
Lots of energetic and committed playing from the rest of the company ensure the show moves swimmingly along. Carver manages his resources well in the small OJS acting space. The battle scene is terrifically well handled.
The thrust stage setting works well and looks splendid.
Rose: Hannah Kilroy
Birdlace: Nicholas Tuck
Peter / Lounge Singer / Sergeant / Drag Queen / Waiter / Big Tony: James Smith
Boland: Richard Haines
Bernstein: Karl Steele
Stevens: Robert Bateman
Fector: Chris Fox
Marcy: Sacha Savory
Librarian / Mama: Hannah Fennell
Ruth Two Bears / Chippy: Jessica Birtwistle
Director: / Musical Director / Scenic and Graphic Designer: Adam Carver
Choreographer / Wardrobe / Fitness Trainer / Drill Sergeant: Sarah Haines
Producers: Richard Haines, Karl Steele