Tag Archives: Amelia Brown

Dogfight

Dogfight

★★★★

Southwark Playhouse

Dogfight

Dogfight

Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 21st August 2019

★★★★

 

a brilliant and nuanced musical

 

It’s 1963 and Eddie Birdlace has one more night before him and his fellow marine buddies (Bernstein and Boland – the three bees) ship out to the Vietnam war. Full of the certainty of their invincibility and the promise of a hero’s return, the marines spend their night partaking in a long honoured tradition: the dogfight. A simple premise. Each marine puts in fifty bucks. They throw a party. The marine who can bring the ugliest date wins the leftover money. When Eddie meets Rose he is sure he has found the perfect girl for the dogfight, but he doesn’t bargain for what comes next.

At its heart this is a love story but it is also investigates toxic masculinity. The marines have only had thirteen weeks training, and can’t be more than nineteen years old. They are vessels of a violent and ugly misogyny, but at the same time they are no more than boys, naive and vulnerable, in no way ready to face war. In heartbreaking juxtaposition, Rose is a breath of fresh air to the stage, intelligent, interesting and ultimately kind.

The performers are all members of the British Theatre Academy, which offers accessible training and performance opportunities to young people under the age of twenty three. And what a cast they are. Across the board they are full of energy and conviction, and there isn’t a weak link onstage. Our leading pair played by Stephen Lewis-Johnson and Claire Keenan in this performance – two casts alternate – are brilliant. Keenan is particularly compelling, funny and genuine, immediately likeable. She is utterly engaging to watch. Her and Lewis-Johnson are in turn lovely together, and both vocally really strong. Lewis-Johnson’s lonely return from Vietnam is an undeniably powerful end to the show which he delivers with the full emotional punch it deserves.

The band are faultless. It’s a fantastic score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (both music and lyrics) that they handle with accomplishment and ease.

The set by Dean Johnson and Andrew Exeter is simple but effective. The band, lit by warm lamps are at the back of the stage and the different settings are created by wooden crates. A particularly lovely moment sees light bulbs suspended by cast members to create street lamps around Eddie and Rose on their first date.

This a brilliant and nuanced musical that is delivered by an incredibly talented cast and band.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Eliza Wilmot

 


Dogfight

Southwark Playhouse until 31st August

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Aspects of Love | ★★★★ | January 2019
All In A Row | ★★ | February 2019
Billy Bishop Goes To War | ★★★ | March 2019
The Rubenstein Kiss | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Other People’s Money | ★★★ | April 2019
Oneness | ★★★ | May 2019
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Afterglow | ★★★½ | June 2019
Fiver | ★★★★ | July 2019
Once On This Island | ★★★ | August 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Drag What?!

★★★

The Phoenix Arts Club

Drag What?!

Drag What?!

The Phoenix Arts Club

Reviewed – 7th August 2019

★★★

 

“it is nevertheless fantastic to see so many exciting new artists starting out and defying convention in drag”

 

Fresh from Michael Twaits’ ‘Art of Drag’ course, the stars of ‘Drag What?!’ are new to the stage and ready to change the drag world for good. Our host Prospero opens the show with a promise: this will be a night of the “most unusual drag” we have ever experienced. And it’s a fantastically varied line up, that brings together people of multiple genders and unexpected skillsets.

Lola del Fuego or ‘Miss Visa Denied’ is the cleaner, drafted in for the night and full of enthusiasm, ready to showcase her burlesque potential. Next up, Lx Motley delivers a powerful spoken word piece called ‘I’m not yelling, I’m just tired’ about coping with the constant backlash against non-binary people in real life and online. Lx Motley returns to close the show later in the night, with a fierce lipsync. Professor Q. Cumber, as the name suggests, is a cucumber enthusiast, a topic area rife with the possibility for innuendo and phallic imagery. The performer is clearly having a brilliant time onstage, and it’s infectious. Perrie Alore circles the piece back to its titular question, challenges societally held assumptions about who qualifies as a drag artist. Prospero, a bisexual drag wizard as well as hosting, combines a conversation about bisexuality with magic ropes, and some very large cards.

Will Actually, “gentleman poet” and comedian is a particular highlight. The poetry is witty, well-observed and eloquent, each piece fronted with an introduction as funny and engaging as the poems themselves. Will is an accomplished and sophisticated performer with a twinkle in their eye.

Veneer’s act is a lipsync performance about living with Borderline Personality Disorder. It is a performance that feels genuine and personal, and as a result carries massive emotional impact. In the intimate cabaret set up of the Phoenix Art Club, I leave the night feeling like I know all of the performers far better than an audience member ever really can.

Some of the acts are smoother and more polished than others. Many of these performers are at the beginning of their careers and it shows, but it is nevertheless fantastic to see so many exciting new artists starting out and defying convention in drag. Full of heart and promise, this is a collective to watch out for, and an undeniably enjoyable evening.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

 

Camden Fringe

Drag What?!

The Phoenix Arts Club as part of Camden Fringe 2019

 

Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:

 

Mouthpiece | ★★★ | Soho Theatre | April 2019
Queereteria TV | ★★ | Above the Stag | April 2019
Rotterdam | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Brighton | April 2019
Status | ★★★½ | Battersea Arts Centre | April 2019
Tumulus | ★★★★ | Soho Theatre | April 2019
Everything Today Is The Same | ★★★ | Katzpace Studio Theatre | May 2019
Othello: Remixed | ★★★★ | Omnibus Theatre | June 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (C) | ★★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | June 2019
Randy Roberts Live! | ★★★★ | Live At Zédel | June 2019
Summer Rolls | ★★★½ | Park Theatre | June 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com