Made in Dagenham at the AdelphiCultureTheatre
Made in Dagenham is the true story of equal pay campaigners at the Ford Dagenham factory in 1968, adapted from the 2010 film of the same name. The action follows Rita O’Grady (Gemma Arterton), who gets pulled into the campaign almost by accident but ends up spearheading the movement all the way to Westminster. The story is sadly resonant today.
The show is not short on visual spectacle. The set seems endless and fluid, constantly bewildering expectations with hidden lights and screens. The lighting design is equally impressive and, coupled with the colourful and clever costume design, there is always something eye-catching to hold the attention. The production does a good job of translating the slickness of film onto the stage with ever-moving montages.
The music, written by James Bond’s David Arnold, is a brilliant pastiche of 60s rock. It is pleasingly complex, especially in the montage scenes, where motifs overlap and intertwine seamlessly. Along with some authentic-looking choreography, one is left with no doubt as to when the show is set. There is no catchy earworm to be found, however, except in the first five notes of the main theme, and that might just be because it’s played almost constantly throughout.
The script is witty but lacks depth. If it’s there to make the audience laugh their way to the next song then it does its job well, including the occasional wry meta-joke. Indeed, the comic timing among the cast is very strong. However, perhaps through a battle with some sound mixing problems, some of the energy and inspiration that is expected of big production is lost. If the idea is to snowball along with the action then the payoff doesn’t quite work. Take the act two opener, a song from the pantomime villain from Ford’s head office, for example – while it has a huge chorus, an actual truck, a pneumatic lift and pyrotechnics, it still doesn’t pack the punch you might want from a song in its position.
Made in Dagenham is an enjoyable evening that for all its meritable points, of which there are many, somehow fails to capture the imagination with the spark you would expect from a West End musical.
Photo: Alex James
Made in Dagenham is at the Adelphi Theatre until 28th March 2015, for further information or to book visit here.