book by Richard Bean lyrics by Richard Thomas music by David Arnold.

Adelphi Theatre Strand WC2E 7NA To 28 March 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 0203 725 7060
Review: William Russell 5 November

The best British musical in years.
Based on the 2010 film about the women who went on strike for equal pay at Ford’s Dagenham factory in 1968, a strike which led to the passing two years later of the Equal Pay Act, this is a palpable hit. The book by Richard Bean is a bit of a hit and miss affair – he plays it straight when dealing with the problems facing the leader of the strike, Rita O’Grady (Gemma Arterton), but when it comes to the politics descends into farce.

Harold Wilson is a buffoon who exits at one point into a cupboard while the big Boss from Ford is a Stetson-wearing, gun-toting caricature, although he gets one of the funniest songs, ‘Made in America’. “You gave us Cilla Black. Thanks for nothing. You can have her back.”

Arterton sings pleasantly enough, but she cannot rise to the challenge of her big numbers and needs all the support she gets from the chorus. But it is a pleasing performance for all that and there is good work from Sophie Louise-Dann as Barbara Castle and Isla Blair as the shop steward.

Rupert Goold’s production goes at breakneck speed, the inventive sets by Bunny Christie are endlessly watchable, and David Arnold’s score is as tuneful as one could wish in a vaguely sixties way. Richard Thomas’s lyrics are amusing although sometimes one wishes one could make all the words out, a common problem these days in musicals.

Bean’s relentless joke-iness may slightly weaken the feminist message, and some of the politics are a bit dicey, but the film was a cosy affair in the Carry On Calendar Girls mode anyway, so it hardly matters. On the other hand why Iraq and quantitative easing get mentioned is a mystery. Billy Elliot can no longer claim to be the best show in town.

Rita O’Grady: Gemma Arterton.
Eddie O’Grady: Adrian Der Gregorian.
Connie: Isla Blair.
Monty: David Cardy.
Clare: Heather Craney.
Barbara Castle: Sophie Louise-Dann.
Hopkins: Julius D’Silva.
Lisa Hopkins: Naomi Frederick.
Tooley: Steve Furst.
Harold Wilson: Mark Hadfield.
Sandra: Sophie Isaacs.
Beryl: Sophie Stanton.
Cass: Naana Agyei-Ampadu.
Barry: Thomas Aldridge.
Tea-lady: Kath Duggan.
Buddy Cortina: Scott Garnham.
Sid: Ian Jervis.
Bill: Paul Kemble.
Pauline: Emma Lindars.
Valerie: Jo Napthine.
Charlotte: Tracey Penn.
Joan: Gemma Salter.
Macer: Gareth Snook.
Phyllis: Rachel Spurrell.
Jesse: Karli Vale.
Stan: René Zagger.
Flo/Dance Captain: Kate Coysten.
Arthur: Christopher Howell.
Harry: Scott Paige.
Rose: Emily Squibb.
Children: Graham O’Grady: Harry Marcus, Tommy Rodger, Josh Shadbolt, Sharon O’Grady: Grace Doohert, Gemma Fray, Annie Guy, Ivy Pratt.

Director: Rupert Goold.
Designer/Costume: Bunny Christie.
Lighting: Jon Clark.
Sound: Richard Brooker.
Music Supervisor: Phil Bateman.
Orchestrator: Steve Sidwell.
Musical Director: Tom Deering.
Video: Treatment.
Choreographer: Aletta Collins.
Dance captain: Kate Coysten.
Assistant Dance c aptain: Kath Duggan.

2014-11-10 07:40:06

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