Iwas lucky to nab some last minute tickets to the new musical Made in Dagenham on Friday, I didn’t really know what to expect from it and in general I tend to prefer a small play to a big fancy musical, but this was fun and funny and a great night out that I heartily recommend.
5. The Costumes: The 60s fashion and hair is great. The factory girls all have floral dresses, matching macs and big hair that is seriously fun to behold. The real fashionista is the wife of the Ford manager, who supports the strike, puts together a petition against caning in schools and looks fabulous throughout. As the only wealthy and fashion forward character she has the most costume changes, and they really seem to have fun with her wardrobe. She is introduced wearing a wonderful orange Biba dress that plays a prominent role in the final scene, but my favourite piece is a cream trouser suit, or it could have been a jumpsuit that is early disco fabulous. I kinda wish I could see this again, just to make notes on all the clothes
4. The Sets: like the costumes, the set is by the magnificent Bunny Christie, and as a result an absolute visual feast. The number of sets changes itself is ridiculous and one of the reasons that I do enjoy a big budget musical. The centrepiece is a car seats conveyor belt and push out frames of giant model kits, but I also loved the intricacies of the O’Grady house, with its upright bed, the enormous Big Ben clock face that stands as background to all the Parliament scenes and the insanity of the American song set and the Ford Cortina advert, with all the cars, flags and glitz.
3. The Story: It’s a true story with a very engaging subject matter. Unlike the Pyjama Game, which I enjoyed but felt a bit safe and dated, this is a story about industrial action, about working class women working together to make change happen at great personal cost and sacrifice. It is feminist with a good portrayal of a range of different women, from the politician, to the wealthy highly educated (“I have a double first from Cambridge”) housewife that is looking for a purpose in life to the career unionist who refused to marry for convenience to the various factory workers, a couple of which get a fair bit of personality. Whilst the story is serious, the way it’s told is seriously funny (sorry, I can’t help myself) with so much warmth and love.
2. The Jokes + the politicians: Mark Hadfield plays a hilariously camp and clueless Harold Wilson, whose gags were my favourite and made me laugh out loud a number of times. An attempt at a dramatic exit using the wrong door is a classic for a reason and so well played here. Some jokes fall a bit flat, like the recurring one about Martin Luther King getting shot, but this is a witty show that packs a lot of laughs.
1. Jemma Arterton: I loved Jemma Arterton, as the heart of the story, her role is enormously important, and I think she pulls it off. She is very likeable, keeps the accent even in song and has a much better voice than I expected.
All in all, a fab night out. One thing I didn’t include in my top 5 is the songs itself, which are fun but are not particularly memorable or catchy. (With the exception of ‘Made in Dagenham, Laid in Dagenham’ which was in my head for the entire evening)