Dogfight By British Theatre Academy

Dogfight advert

Dogfight tells of 3 friends, Birdlace, Boland and Bernstein the night before they are due to ship out to Vietnam. They are holding a ‘dogfight’ a competition where the marine that brings the ugliest woman wins the cash prize. Birdlace needs a date to this dance and meets Rose working in a diner however after she accepts his invitation there things don’t run smoothly and Birdlace begins to regret his decision.

In today’s society Dogfight can be an uncomfortable watch as women are treated as a notch on the bedpost and mocked by marines for how they look. Often something that can be uncomfortable to watch can also highlight how far we have come since then and Dogfight does just that.

Despite the subject matter British Theatre Academy doesn’t shy away from some of the more colourful language and scenes and this is to their credit. The more difficult scenes to watch and listen to hit the audience with the most power and this contrasts nicely with Rose’s innocence and hope.

Talking of Rose and stealing my heart in this show was Claire Keenan as Rose. Keenan had perfected Rose down to the smallest detail, from how she wrapped herself into her oversized cardigan to her pushing her glasses up her nose repeatedly. It never came across as Keenan trying to make Rose a stereotypical Dogfight atendee, instead she came across wonderfully natural and you could understand why Birdlace ended up falling for her.

Birdlace, Boland and Bernstein are played by Stephen Lewis-Johnson, Matthew Michaels and Joe Munn and are known in the show as the 3 B’s. They all do a great job of portraying the bravado combined with depicting the real person underneath. We get to know Eddie Birdlace better than the rest and his marine hard man front really slides the further through the show we get and the audience grow to like him more and more.

The set was kept simple with a backdrop of the star spangled banner made out of what looked like news cuttings. Wooden crates were moved swiftly around the stage to make everything from a bed to tables and chairs for a date.

At times the band did overpower the cast but this never stood in the way of understanding the plot. BTA took the decision to cut quite a lot of content from the show and run it straight through without an interval. I applaud this choice and the show did not feel lacking with some of the material cut and instead it flowed easily from one scene into the next.

Dogfight is a show that likes to challenge both the audience and the cast but despite the uncomfortable subject matter you can’t help but fall for the Eddie and Rose thanks to clever direction and talented actors.

Dogfight is running at Southwark Playhouse until 31st August. To find out more and book tickets visit their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review for My Son Pinocchio Jr and Once On This Island, both by BTA.

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