Another musical adapted from a film, Dogfight tells of a group of U.S. Marines on their last night in San Francisco before shipping out to Vietnam. But this is 1963 and America had only just involved itself in the war; none of the marines had any idea of what was in store for them. Young, naïve and cocky, they decide to spend their last night in a dogfight – $50 in the pot, the marine that brings the ugliest girl to a party gets the lot.
The musical is still in its infancy, first performed on Broadway in 2012 and off-West End in 2014. As such, Gone Rogue Productions has the opportunity to put its own stamp on this promising new production – a book with a bit of diversity and catchy songs that give the actors the opportunity to show off their vocal skills. Rose (Angharad Morgan) is the star singer here, a gentle vocal that complements the songs well. In some songs she needs to provide more support (singing quietly can sound feeble without it) but she has a soft head voice and pours emotion into her songs.
‘Nothing Short of Wonderful’ conveys Rose’s excitement and naive optimism at being asked to the dance by Eddie Birdlace (Sevan Keoshgerian). Keoshgerian himself has a powerful voice but runs the danger of overreaching for the top notes. It works in ‘Come Back’, filled with anger and grief for his Marine brothers, but is less effective in group numbers when his vocal is flat. ‘Some Kinda Time’ exemplifies this – the male chorus are fine in unison but fall apart when Boland (Jacob Ketcher), Bernstein (Robin Harris) and Birdlace try to harmonise. In all the songs, the harmonies are a bit hit and miss; ‘Dogfight’ with Marcy (Anna-Marie Pinnell) and Rose is a disaster, but ‘First Date/ Last Night’ is the stand-out song between Rose and Birdlace – shy, full of feeling, awkward but endearing and a beautiful blend of their voices.
The acting is much stronger throughout the cast – the women are shy and naïve (except Marcy who has balls of steel), whereas the men are arrogant and filled with pent-up anger that makes them take what they believe to be theirs. They all seem to grasp the emotion in their characters and this cements the whole performance. A great opportunity to build on this foundation and create something really exciting.
Dogfight plays at C too (venue 4) until August 31 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.