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This has been a good summer for the great classic musicals: Kiss Me Kate at the Proms; Guys and Doll at Chichester; Porgy and Bess at Regent’s Park- all wonderful experiences.

But the little surprise of the summer has been Dogfight. The story line – of marines off for a weekend in San Francisco -the night before their deployment to Vietnam. They take a bet on who can get off with the ugliest woman for the night! I know it sounds awful and misogynist in the extreme. But it is not: it is really good in many ways.  Male bonding , war and the treatment of women are important topics – as is the response of women to it. It is skilfully executed.

Pasek and Paul produce a marvellous score that echoes all the classic music forms from the 1960’s – from bop to folk – and they give us a score that is unusually strong (many modern musical have weak scores).  The staging, casting, performances and musical direction are impeccable. Jamie Muscato’s Eddie demonstrates a changing masculinity and Laura Jane Matthewson’s first ever role shows a star in the making: both are superb  and make  a great pair.

The musical won lots of off Broadway awards in 2013; and this one continues the Southwark Playhouse tradition of great but off the track revivals (Parade,Titanic, Mack and Mabel – all of which have been brilliantly done recently).

This best new musical of the year runs at the Southwark Playhouse till September 13th.

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About kenplummer

For over 40 years I worried about things sociological; now I have time to stand and stare.

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