Dogfight by SEDOS
Dogfight is a show with music by Pasek and Paul of Dear Evan Hansen, Smash and La La Land fame. Being a huge fan of their work and having experienced SEDOS’ high standards previously, I was excited to discover what Dogfight had to offer.
Dogfight is set in San Francisco on the eve of the Kennedy assassination and the night before a group of Marines are sent to fight in the Vietnam War. They set about to spend their last night on home soil at a Dogfight, a game where the Marine who brings the ugliest date wins but as their agenda is discovered it becomes apparent that it isn’t a game to the girls they bring.
Central character Birdlace is played by Joe McWilliam and it is only him that appears to have a conscious out of all of his buddies. He struck that balance well, a convincing Marine yet as he says brought up well by his mother. His friends Bernstein played by Nick Dore and Boland played by Luke James Leahy contrast nicely to this, happy to verge on rape to get what they want.
Lauren Clarke played Rose, the girl that grows to be the object of Birdlace’s affections. It is difficult to ascertain in their first meeting what Birdlace’s motivation for inviting Rose to the Dogfight was, but one has to assume the motives are less than altruistic. For this reason I struggled slightly with Clarke’s interpretation of Rose, whilst she was clearly shy there was nothing about her that would lead me to believe that she was a likely candidate for the ‘dogfight’ winner.
That being said I really enjoyed everything else about Clarke’s performance. She was the most well rounded and believable character with insecurities about her appearance yet passionate about many things which made it easy to see why Birdlace could fall for her. The chemistry between the couple was also entirely convincing.
There were other nice cameos from the rest of the cast, Kate Gledhill as Marcy, a prostitute paid to come to the Dogfight was brilliantly feisty and the rest of the women at The Dogfight were also funny to watch. The remainder of the Marines needed a bit more attention to the harmony balance between them and I would have liked to see more individual characters.
The story itself is fairly simple, a story of boy annoys girl, boy tries to win girl back and this simplicity worked well is SEDOS’ staging of the production. My biggest critic was that near the end of the show where the staging moves for a moment to Vietnam. It is unclear if it is supposed to be explicit or implicit what was happening but the setting sat somewhere in the middle. I would have preferred an even bigger contrast to their life at home.
The set design by Robert J Stanex was a success. It was kept simple and the split levels meant that it was versatile. Details such as the simple addition of the bed from under the split level or different slash curtains into a wing to denote the location meant that the audience were quickly and easily able to establish the location without too much fuss.
Overall Dogfight as a show doesn’t have the bark or the bite that Pasek & Paul’s other work has but in Dogfight SEDOS produced yet another enjoyable show helped enormously by 2 strong leads.
To find out more about SEDOS and their upcoming shows visit their website.