MADE IN DAGENHAM (musical)
Ends 11th April 2015.
CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND SOME ADULT MATERIAL.
At the Ford Factory, Dagenham, the ladies of the upholstery section sew for less
than a man's wage. When machinist Rita O'Grady sparks a protest, the landscape
of UK labour relations is changed forever.
"The Cortina Game," really...
The hit film about the struggles of 1968 is brought to the musical stage by
Richard Bean, David Arnold and Richard Thomas. Rupert Gould directs a cast
including Gemma Arterton.
Press Night Curtain Calls:
(seen at the evening performance on 19th November 2014)
fun, with a will of iron and a cast of pure gold. Impeccably staged, each and
every role is a tribute to casting directors Grindrod, Crockett, Burton and
Naughton's skills. Gemma Arterton IS the machinist mother who changes history,
Adrian Der Gregorian her uncomplicated husband, Isla Blair, Heather Craney,
Sophie Issacs, Sophie Stanton, Naana Agyei-Ampadu and the rest the perfect
colleagues. Add to that David Cardy as Monty the unionist and a loopy Scott
Garnham as his American boss - plus a delightful Naomi Frederick as the educated
woman suffering simply because of her gender... and you can read the cast list
in the programme or on the theatre's foyer screen for the rest of the talented
team both on stage, in the orchestra and creative.
On a string of intelligent sets (a particularly ingenious, simple yet
brilliant sequence on a long table, a clever home to factory transition, a witty
dodgem, clever Latin blackboard joke and more) the team carry the entire
audience along a thrilling story line to a deeply satisfying conclusion. The
music ranges from the rousing "Everybody Out," "Stand Up" and "Made In Dagenham," through
the moving "The Letter" written by Eddie to his wife to, frankly the slightly long
"This Is America" act 2 opening and superfluous "political" numbers
like "Harold Wilson."
And that, sadly is the sole but crucial weakness of the show. It's around 30
minutes too long, with too many "here's a good place for a song" moments which
slow things and add little to the tale except time. A very long set up sees the
real meat appear only around 40 minutes into the first half, and holds the
second half up for nearly another 15. Yet once past those moments, it's
compelling. Even better, it's engrossing - and there's genuine delight when the
situation is resolved.
Some actual flashes of genius in this evening, plenty of Great British humour
(and a couple of anachronisms - "super glue," "fit" women? not in the 1960s),
and as mentioned, brilliance in casting and production. Too British for overseas
visitors? More like an education for them. "Billy Elliot" may also be about
industry, and have equally cute kids (Josh Shadbolt and Ivy Pratt the night the
monkey was in) but this has an adult grit and
perspective, with a greater depth of intelligence and considerably more
emotional and historical interest.
For all its faults, this is a model worth taking for a test-drive.