Made in Dagenham review - November 2014
A Punchy Pickett Line PerformanceMy first thought when the news of arrival of Made in Dagenham broke was “ooh, that show is in safe hands.” Rupert Goold is possibly my favourite director at the moment, Bunny Christie is the undisputed queen of scenic design and writer Richard Bean always manages to tickle me. Throw natural star Gemma Arteton in the mix and we have ourselves a hit new musical. I am happy to say, my early predictions were more or less on point.
The strong cast is the heart of this show, without their energy and commitment to their roles the show could have been verging on the silly, luckily this wasn’t the case. The much hyped Arterton was perfectly cast as the feisty yet unassuming Rita O’Grady and her character development was well thought out and well executed. Arterton just seems to exudes star quality, which makes her a joy to watch. It was a joy to discover that she can actually sing very well too!
Sophie Louise Dann was a laugh and a half as the political Barbra Castle (although perhaps a spot too young to portray an accurate historical figure, but we forgive her for being so truly fabulous.) Other than Arterton, Dann seemed to have been gifted some very fun musical numbers and it was a joy to watch her deliver them.
Bunny Christie's set design was an immediate joy and packed the right visual punch as the cast popped out of a 1960s "flat pack" style house. The "put together" theme was delightfully continued in the workshop, giving the actors a fine backdrop indeed!
Perhaps my one question mark in Christie's designs were the light up letters she dotted around the stage, for me this felt like a weird brake with convention.
By and large the music was rousing; Arterton and her gang had me champing at the bit, thrusting my arms in the air as I stood up for my rights as a working woman! Numbers such as "Everybody Out" and "Stand Up" were real winners.
My one true complaint with the show is the Act Two opening, in which actors with army attire and cowboy hats ride around on a tank singing the joys of life as an American rather than a Brit. Here Richard Thomas' lyrics went from being borderline but amusing to just pure cringe!
Overall the show was a hit for me; the cast were fantastic, the show looked lovely and the story both touched and amused me. In this instance I forgive a new musical for my small areas of criticism and simply want to celebrate a show that not only entertained me, but put a little bit of it's fire in my belly.
Such was my enjoyment, I am likely to make a return visit to Dagenham. I do hope you all follow suit.
5 November 2014, Adelphi Theatre