All's fair?

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  June 10, 2008

Most of the writing in Billy Bishop is rudimentary, and that includes a ponderous ballad called “The Dying of Albert Ball.” And the Gloucester Stage production, directed by Scott LaFeber, is rudimentarily mounted on a mostly bare stage beneath a bridge-like proscenium hung with murky drop cloths during act one. The only furnishings are an upright piano, a rickety chair, and a trunk full of military jackets and headgear to mark Bishop’s transitions from cadet to Royal Flying Corpsman to dashing ace in boots, bomber jacket, and Snoopy-esque muffler. But the modest show gets its points across, abetted by the music, which moves from wartime ditty (“We were off to fight the Hun/And it looked like lots of fun”) to boogie-woogie and imitation Brecht/Weill. Bolman and McGarrahan keep the musical interludes chugging while deepening them with some melancholy harmonies. In real life, the World War I ace scored 72 hits; Gray and Peterson, here abetted by a more-than-competent cast, would seem to have made it 73.

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Related: High-flying farce, No country for old men, Return of the screw, More more >
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