Many in London are talking about Made in Dagenham. Set close to London in Essex, it’s only a short tube journey to find the real town yourself. But was bringing it to the West End the best idea?
The story sees a group of women during the 1950’s working for the car manufacturer Ford. Some of their husbands, including the main character’s (played by Gemma Arterton) working side by side with them in the factory. This fictional tale comes from the film in 2010 and highlights the inequality of women in the work place and how a lack of equal pay shows the continued discrimination of women.
As someone who has not seen the film, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting; and yet I still am not sure. As a musical, there are catchy songs and liberating ones; as a feminist, the story appealed to me and I so wanted to like it. Moments I enjoyed were the mixture of comical to fiercely independent songs, highlighting the stupidity of the government and women’s empowerment. There were character’s that were exaggerated stereotypes or parodies of public figures and they gave a chuckle and a giggle at interludes in the storyline.
However, it seems this production couldn’t make its’ mind up. It either had to be comical, or hard-hitting but it failed to be able to do both. While I didn’t find myself bored, I still expected there to be more. The director took a nice approach in bringing characters into the audience with spotlights, but without any real interaction with the audience, not even eye contact, this seemed a little futile.
My disappointment finished at Arterton’s performance. As a great fan on hers in many films, I was excited to see her on stage, in the flesh. However, with her character being quite plain and the more serious of the group of women, she struggled to stand out. The performances of exaggerated characters unfortunately overshadowed her and her great talent.
Over all, this happy-ended revolution of women and what we continue to strive for is feel good and nice to walk away from. But it is only nice, and not as astounding as one was expecting.