Dogfight

From the musical masterminds currently sweeping the BAFTAs and Golden Globes with La La Land, comes their celebrated musical Dogfight.

It’s the 21st of November 1963, the eve of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We follow a group of Marines as they prepare to spend their last night in San Francisco before being deployed to the escalating conflict in Vietnam. They set out for one final night of debauchery and chaos. Under a reclusive pretence Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward, sheltered and idealistic waitress and enlists her to win a cruel bet with his fellow squadron. Their encounter challenges their beliefs, educates them to rewrite the rules and world they thought they knew, and how much there is to do and see ‘before it’s over’.

Please note: this play contains adult themes and is not suitable for children under the age of 16.

The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece is one of the wittiest and most delightful plays in the repertoire. Wilde called it ‘A trivial comedy for serious people’ and this reflects the sparkling humour and mischievous sophistication of this great play. Wilde created a cast of brilliant characters and gave them many unforgettable lines on such crucial subjects as cucumber sandwiches, the unfashionable side of Belgrave Square, and the cloakroom at Victoria Station. And then there is the handbag!

Temple Review – by Peter McGarry

Conflict lies at the heart of all drama and it comes in many forms.

This remarkable play looks at conflict in the context of conscience and how it decides or dictates a person’s decisions and deeds.

It fictionalises what could have taken place behind the scenes of a real event – the 2011  occupation by austerity protestors which actually caused the closure of St Paul’s Cathedral. But this is not so much about that flag-waving gesture as the mental turmoil inflicted on the clergy hierarchy indoors. As such it’s a daring and courageous piece of theatre for a local company to tackle.

The skill of this fine Loft production is its ability to examine what could be seen as a word-heavy script by maximising its potency as powerful theatre coupled with flashes of delightful humour.

There are no pat answers to the problems facing the Dean, the Bishop and the Canon Chancellor. Sue Moore’s subtle direction and a splendid set of actors enable us to understand their frustrations. Although the protest issue is not even concerned with religion, the unanswerable question revolves around which side deserves the true moral right of resolution.

The agony of the dilemma is revealed in another stunning performance by Phil Reynolds whose Dean readily admits his own lack of leadership flair but holds fast to his self-belief. Battering at his sensibility are Michael Barker’s strongly rebellious Canon Chancellor and Jeremy Heynes’s fluffy, old-school Bishop.

These characters are vividly brought to life, along with others inextricably caught in the crossfire and delivered in style by Kate Willis and Cathryn Bowler.

On the fringe of the clergy clashes, there is delicious work from Elizabeth Morris whose portrayal of an eager-to-please PA prompts memories of the great Joyce Grenfell.  And Richard Moore’s stately Chapter House set design stamps its authority with lasting effect.

We might never know what actually went on behind those closed clergy doors. But this interpretation offers very digestible food for thought.

Peter McGarry