6 November 2014

Made in Dagenham at the Adelphi Theatre was good but lacked heart

Made in Dagenham was another of those musicals that I was tempted to go to by the offer of a cheap seat via work. The ticket pricing went something like this; the face value was £60.50 (!), the group discount brought this down to £39.50 and my company's subsidy lowered it further down to £20. At that price I did not have to think about the cost/benefit, at £60 I would not have gone.

Group bookings are never the best seats, though they are usually reasonable, and this time I was in the Stalls a little way back and to one side. My view of the stage was fine.

Unusually I knew something of the plot this time as it was based on a true story though I knew nothing of the details so most of the story was new to me.

Perhaps it was because I saw it earlier in the year but the first thought that came to was The Pyjama Game, another musical set around a workplace dispute over money. It's a comparison that Made in Dagenham never quite lived up to.

A lot about Made in Dagenham was good and it was a very well constructed musical in all departments. The tunes were good and were repeated, the set did interesting things (it reminded me of Matilda in that respect), the cast were lively and well choreographed and there were some good jokes (and some bad ones).

Some of the deviations from the true surprised story surprised and worried me and, for example, I found nothing clever or funny in the pantomime version of Harold Wilson and I thought that having him devalued the core story by making it less real.

While the play was brilliant technically but, like the Tin Man, it lacked heart. While I was very sympathetic to the cause of the women collectively I cared little for the strained marriage of the leading lady and even less about her colleague who died.

I had a minor gripe at the end when they tried to sell the success of the ladies of Ford Dagenham in saying that they helped to end unequal pay for women when it has not ended, it is just disguised better.

Even with these faults, the technical excellent of the production meant that it was thoroughly entertaining and I expect it to run for a long time.

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