Saturday, 29 February 2020

“Moonlight & Magnolias” b y Ron Hutchinson
Nottingham Playhouse
Five weeks into filming “Gone With The Wind”, the most eagerly awaited and expensive movie of all time, producer David O Selznick (Joe Alessi), fires the director and stops filming. With his reputation on the line, and a determination to fulfil his vision of making a truly great movie, he pulls Victor Fleming (Oscar Pearce) off the set of “The Wizard of Oz” and commissions script-doctor, Ben Hecht (Dan Fredenburgh) , to rewrite the screen play.
The problem is that they have just five days and the added complication that Hecht is one of the few people in Hollywood who hasn’t read the novel! The three are locked into Selznick’s office with Selznick and Fleming reduced to re-enacting the story to a baffled Hecht.
Fuelled only by peanuts and bananas, tension builds, exhaustion sets in but from the midst of chaos emerges the biggest Hollywood blockbuster of all time. The only other person privy to this havoc is Selznick’s secretary, Miss Poppenghul (Hayley Doherty).
However you describe the comedy stylings, whether it be farce, slapstick, and there is plenty of both, this play is comedy through and through. This is ramped up when Selznick and Fleming start to act out the story and all of the characters to Hecht. There’s some brilliant comic lines in this script and the some very physical comedy.
What hits you first, after the curtain has lifted, is the well designed and observed set by Tim Meacock. Everything has been thought of, including water sprinklers form the roof. It is stylish, and even down to the reception for Selznick’s secretary, Miss Poppenghul, which we only see through the blinds through the window and a door.
Directed by Kirsty Patrick-Ward, she has brought out the energy and comedy of the script. In a play that all takes place in just the one self contained set, she, along with the four actors of course, make this play utterly magnetic to watch. That also is thanks to the never ending script, and there are swathes of it, and it's all funny.
Then there is the technical side of this show, The shy outside the office window which lets us know at what stage of the writing we are at; from early morning to the middle of the night, and then the video design, reminding us of the film itself and the stars, bringing the play full circle.
The timing is everything with farce, and comedy whatever the description, and when you look at the "Slapping" scene and the fight scene, you can appreciate the time that these two scenes in particular must have taken to get to the standard we get to see.
A great look back to the time of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the behind the scenes glimpse of the pressurised atmosphere that Producers, Directors and Script Writers probably had to work under.
All four actors Joe Alessi, Dan Fredenburgh, Oscar Pearce and Hayley Doherty are excellent in their roles. Oscar and Joe's re-enactment of the scenes for Hecht are hilarious, in particular the birthing scene. Their energy is to be admired because this play is non-stop, and they have us rooting for them to get this play re-written ready for the film's production.
There is a fifth actor involved though that we never see. The very talented Robin Bowerman who does all of the voice over work in this play.
Within the comic lines and comedy acting, there are some serious topics touched on. The slapping scene of the young black maid, and whether this should be shown in the film, racism and sexism, but just as we get a hint of these subjects, along comes another wave of comedy.
And we also discover where that classic phrase "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" comes from, or is that just poetic licence? Well it is the (almost) true story isn't it?
Great fun. Great energy and four great stage actors. Great shame if you miss it! You'll either go bananas for this show or go nuts for it; and if you don't catch on to what I did there, then go get a ticket.
“Moonlight & Magnolias” is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 7 March

Friday, 28 February 2020

“Celebration” by Harold Pinter
Nottingham New Theatre
The plot revolves around three couples dining in the most expensive restaurant in town. At one table are sat two brothers, Lambert and Matt, and two sisters, Prue and Julie. Lambert and Julie are married, as are Matt and Prue. They are celebrating Lambert and Julie's wedding anniversary.
Seated at another table are Russell and Suki, who later join the other party of diners. The diners' conversations are interwoven by the interjections of Richard, the restaurateur, Sonia the maitresse d', and an unnamed Waiter.
The dialogue begins as an apparently ordinary celebratory meal for the diners developing into a complex weaving of more sinister themes. The play ends with a mysterious (and 'incomplete') speech from the waiter.
The Nottingham New Theatre always try to create the right atmosphere and even before the play starts you are greeted at the door, asked about your reservation and shown to your seat by the waiter, indulging in small talk,as waiters are prone to do. A clever touch by Director Bill Hayes and Producer Skylar Hurd.
The music is typical light jazz background music with dimmed lighting, making you feel that you are part of the full dining experience. The Sound Design is by Nadia Elalfi and the Light Design by Rose Edgeworth.
With the cast already arrived, seated and enjoying their meals, you almost blend in with the surroundings. The characters though do anything but!
I've never been a massive fan of Pinter, and have probably only seen a couple of his stage plays. This play though may just make me search out more of Pinter's work, as this one appeals to my sense of fun. This, apart from the writing, was particularly made more attractive to me because of this cast, many of them I have seen before, so know the quality of their work.
Jake Levy (Lambert) and Joe Butler (Matt) play the two East End gangsters. Lambert being the more nervy of the brothers shows that you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of him. Matt looks to be the brains of the pair. I especially like, and not having seen this play before, the growling emitting from Lambert when you sense that his anger is on the verge of showing. You could imagine these two as modern day gangsters.
Their "wives" Lily Bailes (Julie) and Jessica Staplehurst (Prue) make you wonder how either of these two brothers snared either of these two sisters. Julie and Prue get to sexually harass the waiter, played by Jack Linley, over seen by the two husbands, but when the show is on the other foot, as we discover Lambert has history with the other female diner, Suki, there are some glaring "if looks could kill" looks.
Rachel Coussins (Suki) and Rohan Rakhit (Russell) play the other diners, and again, you wonder how these two characters ever got together as the suited and booted Russell's accent is quite upper class, presented with some wonderful facial expressions by Rohan.
Rachel, also gets to treat us to some great facial expressions, but with a very different accent, and while her costume is made for a night out, well it reveals everything apart from the price!
All of these paired characters are opposites and I think that is what makes each pair such fun to watch.
But not all the comedy comes from these pairings because the comedy lines are also generously shared with the "staff". Sonia the maitresse d, is played by Eleanor Veal has some quirky stories to tell, as does Richard, whose Grandfather appears to have known just about everyone from literary and entertainment history. Richard is played brilliantly by Oliver Binns.
The play only lasts 50 minutes and it doesn't matter that we don't know what happens to the three couples after the leave the restaurant, but we never did get to hear the end of Richard's final interjection........
As long as you're not easily offended by some choice swear words or by talk about carnal activities behind filing cabinets or un-natural activities between a son and his mother (well it was good enough for Shakespeare), then you'll love this lampoon of social classes and behaviour. I for one loved it, and now I want more Pinter in my theatre and literary education.
“Celebration” is at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 29 February.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

“As You Like It” by The Royal Shakespeare Company
Nottingham Theatre Royal
This production is the reason why I love Shakespeare so much. If anyone dare to say that Shakespeare is not for today and is not funny, then go and see this production with its'audience involvement, on and off stage, jokes and even a mention of Strictly complete with glitter balls.
Duke Senior (Antony Byrne) has been forced into exile from the court by Duke Frederick. He takes refuge in the Forest of Arden with a band of faithful lords. Rosalind (Lucy Phelps), his daughter, is kept at court as a companion to her cousin Celia (Sophie Khan-Levy), Frederick's daughter.
Orlando de Boys (David Ajao), the youngest son of the late Sir Rowland de Boys, has been kept in poverty by his brother Oliver (Leo Wan) since his father's death. Orlando decides to wrestle for his fortune at Frederick's court, where he sees Rosalind and they fall in love.
The Duke banishes Rosalind, fearing that she is a threat to his rule. Celia, refusing to be parted from her cousin, goes with Rosalind to seek Duke Ferdinand in the Forest. For safety they disguise themselves - Rosalind as the boy Ganymede and Celia as his sister Aliena - and persuade the fool Touchstone to accompany them.
On hearing of a plot by his brother to kill him, Orlando also flees to the Forest and takes refuge with the exiled Duke. Posting love lyrics through the forest - and the audience -, Orlando encounters Rosalind disguised as Ganymede. She challenges his love-sick state and suggests that he should prove the strength of his love by wooing Ganymede as if he were Rosalind.
Elsewhere in the Forest love also blossoms: the shepherd Silvia (Amelia Donkor) suffers unrequited love for Phoebe (Laura Elseworthy), who has fallen for Ganymede, while Touchstone (Sandy Grierson) is pursuing the goat-herder Audrey (Charlotte Arrowsmith).
Oliver, sent into the Forest to hunt down Orlando, has his life saved by his brother, becomes filled with remorse for his past behaviour and falls in love with Aliena.
Frustrated by the pain of his love for Rosalind, Orlando is unable to continue wooing Ganymede, so Ganymede promises he will conjure up the real Rosalind and that all the lovers will finally be wed..... And if this were Hollywood, they would all ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
One of the Bard's most comical of scripts, and this cast, as with yesterday's "Measure For Measure" bring out these comic lines beautifully, presenting them for an any age audience, and this is why I have always felt that teens should experience Shakespeare in his natural habitat - the stage - to get the full enjoyment of his works.
I must highlight the specific comedy talents of Sandy Grierson though as "the fool" Touchstone with his garish, crazy outfits and his comic talents, even making a quick amendment to part of the stage seem part of the story,and name checking Shakespeare within the play itself.
Directed by Kimberley Sykes, she has magnified the comedy through these actors and has done an amazing job with this production, utilising not only the stage but the auditorium as well.
The music performed in the play is beautifully delivered and arranged and is befitting of the tone and feel of the piece. A real enhancement to a true classic.
The set uses the backbone of the "Measure For Measure" set but towards the end of this production there is a BIG addition to the set which is wonderful.
This is the first time, as far as I can remember, seeing this play, and, if I see another production of it, I really hope that it can match, or at least come close to this modern,magical and mirthful production.
"All The World's A Stage" and on this stage this play is world class, and I will love this production forever and a day. You will too if you go and see it.
"As You Like It" is at the Nottingham theatre Royal on Friday 28 February, Saturday 29 February (matinee) and Thursday 5 March.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

“Measure For Measure” by The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Nottingham Theatre Royal
This year I’ll be catching several Shakespeare plays that I have not seen before and this is where my education starts to be broadened with “Measure For Measure”
Vienna, set in the early 1900's, is teeming with brothels and loose morality, but the Duke doesn't want to use his authority to clean up the city. He departs, dressed as a friar, leaving his deputy, Angelo, in charge. Angelo is at first reluctant, but he soon starts to make changes.
A young man, Claudio, gets the girl he intends to marry, Juliet, pregnant. Under a forgotten old law that Angelo has just reinstated, Claudio is arrested and sentenced to death. Angelo revives other harsh laws and threatens to demolish all the brothels. Meanwhile, the Duke returns to the city in disguise.
Lucio, Froth and others (who regularly visit Mistress Overdone's brothel) are shocked to hear of Claudio's fate and agree that Lucio should visit Claudio's sister, Isabella, in her convent. They persuade her to leave the convent and appeal to Angelo to spare her brother.
A friar (Peter) comes forward to support Isabella's story, and Mariana confirms that she was the one to sleep with Angelo and that he had earlier refused to marry her. The Duke (in disguise again) also confirms Isabella and Mariana's stories and, during a scuffle, is revealed to be the returned Duke.
On the Duke's orders, Friar Peter marries Mariana to Angelo, whom the Duke immediately condemns to death. The two women plead for Angelo's life, and the Duke relents. The Duke then has both Barnardine and Claudio brought before him, frees Barnardine and reunites Isabella with her brother. Lucio is forced to marry the prostitute he made pregnant, and is then condemned to death so that his widow can inherit his money.
The play ends when the Duke appears to propose marriage to Isabella, who does not answer him.
Shakespeare's comic wit is darkly exhibited here, not least with the beheaded prisoner scene, and is wonderfully presented with wonderful lucidity, so that even a non Shakespeare fan would be able to latch on to the story and get the humour intended.
Directed by Gregory Doran and Set Design by Stephen Brimson Lewis. After a glamorous ballroom scene, the set takes second place to the story and the actors, but complementing the simplicity of the set, the projection design takes you to the places where the scenes need to be.
You would not expect the cast to be anything less than wonderful, after all this is the Royal Shakespeare Company after all, and this cast are nothing less than wonderful. Engaging the audience at every step and making that long ninety minutes first act seem like nineteen.
There's no way that I could favour any of these actors over the next as they all know their craft and present the characters wonderfully. Although I will mention Hannah Azuonye for her beautiful singing voice which opened the second act.
And for someone who loves to hear accents, this play is teeming with various accents.
This production is also well timed as the theme of the play is depravity, blackmail, lust, sleaze and sex, and when you think that this is being presented in Nottingham in the same week as the Harvey Weinstein court conclusion,and still in the wake of the "Me 2 Movement", it shows just how relevant Shakespeare still is.
“Measure For Measure” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal on Saturday 29 February, Friday 6 March and Saturday 7 March matinee.

Monday, 24 February 2020

“A Servant Of Two Masters” by Carlo Goldoni
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
Most people will know the storyline from the play “One Man Two Guvnors”, the play that launched James Corden’s career on stage. This story is adapted from the original, and the story that "One Man" is taken from.
The play opens with the introduction of Beatrice, a woman who has travelled to Venice disguised as her dead brother in search of the man who killed him, Florindo, who is also her lover. Her brother forbade her to marry Florindo, and died defending his sister's honour.
Beatrice disguises herself as Federigo (her dead brother) so that he can collect dowry money from Pantalone, the father of Clarice, her brother's betrothed. She wants to use this money to help her lover escape, and to allow them to finally wed. But thinking that Beatrice's brother was dead, Clarice has fallen in love with another man, Silvio, and the two have become engaged. Interested in keeping up appearances,
Beatrice's servant, Truffaldino, is the central figure. He is always complaining of an empty stomach and when the opportunity presents itself to be servant to another master, Florindo, he sees the opportunity for an extra dinner.
As Truffaldino runs around Venice trying to fill the orders of two masters, he is almost found out several times. To further complicate matters, Beatrice and Florindo are staying in the same hotel, and are searching for each other.
And that is just half the story!
This is one of the craziest and fun plays I've had the pleasure of seeing and something very different for the Lace Market Theatre. There is a live quartet and clever insertion of popular music to reflect the situations in the play.
Konrad Skubis plays Truffaldino,and a new name to me. Played very different to the Francis Henshall character of "One Man" although there is still plenty of physical comedy in this show, and all done with a smile and a twinkle of the eye.
Jen White (Beatrice) makes the change from "she" to "he" with just a tucking in of a skirt and a permanent marker moustache. Completely unrecognisable! Great fun role to watch, and I'm sure to play.
Arnd Korn (Florindo) delivers yet again as the second of the two masters and brings quite a British sense of humour to the show's mayhem.
Roger Newman (Pantalone) brings a dollop of Cockney humour to this role,and we also get to hear him singing one of my favourite Chas 'n' Dave songs before the show.
Chris Collins (Silvio) also gets to air some vocals - I knew I'd get to hear him sing again - and also delivers another hidden skill, plate-spinning. How many hidden talents can one man have?
Glenda Plumari (Clarice) is superb at playing a spoilt brat who can't get what she wants, and at getting what she doesn't want, as in Federigo.
Natasha Szymanski (Smeraldina) and Alessia Molteni (Dr Lombardi) both turn in wonderfully fun performances, consistent with the rest of the very talented cast.
Rosie Wallace (Brighella) also gets to air her vocals in a zany version of a Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin song, along with the cast.
Directed by Jae and Neil Marriott, they have added the equivalent of pinches of spice to this script, and just a few spicy bits, if you keep your eyes open! The addition of the modern pop classics also add another layer of fun to the production. That and the use of the whole theatre and auditorium make sure that you have your eyes and ears open at all times, so as not to miss any entrances and exits. Some of the comedy sections are completely unexpected. Let me just say "pizza"!
Lighting Design is by Phil Anthony and Sound Design by Jack Harris. Both wonderfully executed to the maximum effect.
Jane Herring’s costume choices are inspired and immense fun. Go and see what I mean! The phrase "an explosion in a paint factory" comes to mind, but in a very good way.
Musical Director is Neil Marriott and also is part of the quartet providing the music along with Mark JamesArnd Korn and Gareth Morris. My tip is to get there early enough to hear the music selection that is performed before the show starts as this will get you in the mood for this euphoric piece of theatre. There's also face painting and balloon modelling and street artists to entertain you even before you take your seats.
Listening to the reaction from the vacating audience members, they all loved this show and were full of happy chat. They obviously had the same feelings about this brilliant play with music as I did.
If you are feeling just a bit down. This show will be your medicine and will instantly lift you out of the doldrums. And I can almost guarantee you singing "Buona Sera" for days afterwards, as I know I will.
“A Servant Of Two Masters” is at the Nottingham Lace market theatre until Saturday 29 February.

Friday, 21 February 2020

"The Yeoman Of The Guard" by St Peter's G&S Society.
Ravenshead Village Hall.
I've never had the chance to see this operetta performed on stage, so it was with relish that I accepted the invitation to see this production.
Set in the Tower of London, during the 16th century, it's the darkest, and perhaps most emotionally engaging, of the Savoy Operas, ending with a broken-hearted main character and two very reluctant engagements, rather than the usual numerous marriages and happy endings. The music and lyrics though are considered to be the pair's finest works. the trademark comedy is in abundance as well, with many one liners and puns.
The first thing you notice is the wonderful set, designed by Angela Wade, this alone sets the precedent for the quality of the production.
Directed and conducted by Stephen Godward. If anyone knows how to present and produce Gilbert & Sullivan, the Stephen is the man to do it. He has a vast wealth of experience on and off the stage with G&S and has awards to prove the fact. Another guarantee of this production being the best.
This is a large cast, including the ensemble, and they make the words and music skip into life. Twenty two musical pieces, accompanied on the piano by Piotr Wisniewski.
It would be unfair to pinpoint any of these actors for their talents because they were all great.
Stephen Walker (Sir Richard Cholmomdeley), Andrew Halfpenny (Colonel Fairfax), John Carter (Sergeant Meryll), Keith White (Leonard Meryll), Andrew Rushton (Jack Point - the jester), Tony Pinchbeck (Wilfred Shadbolt), Max Taylor (First Yeoman), Richard Tanner (Second Yeoman), Joanne Robinson (Elsie Maynard), Helen Halfpenny (Phoebe Meryll), Georgie Lee (Dame Carruthers), Helen Kirk (Kate) and Trevor Tagg (Headsman) are the main cast members with a further nineteen members as inhabitants of the Tower of London.
Gilbert & Sullivan wrote some pieces which can be real tongue twisters and really pacy, but there were only a couple of times that i noticed slip ups. Minor ones, but ones I noticed that Stephen picked up on as the conductor. This didn't detract from the performance, but instead shows just how difficult G&S is to perform and what a good job this society does.
There were several "WOW" factors with this production and the costumes were just one of them. A lot of hard work obviously went into them and they looked amazing.
"The Yeoman Of The Guard" is a wonderfully comic piece but with a darker edge to it. The music is excellent and the presentation of the characters were equally excellent.
A long Act One but a shorter Act Two and with an overall time of 160 odd minutes, including the interval, you get your money's worth performance wise, music wise and length wise.
"The Yeoman Of The Guard" is at Ravenshead Village Hall until Saturday 22 February with a matinee and evening performance.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

"A Heart To Love" by Bear Left
Bonington Theatre, Arnold.
I have some bad news for all who read my reviews on her or through my review blog site. You've missed the chance of seeing a damn good, and slightly alternative take on some of Shakespeare's Greatest Hits.
Nine of Shakespeare's plays with a "love" theme plus a couple of sonnets have been chosen to spotlight scenes are what this evening is made up of.
My favourite comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" has three scenes. They are played out, complete with accents and the final section, which is the Mechanicals play, is excellent,and done very different to any that I have seen before. Think "Acorn Antiques" Vs Shakespeare and that is similar to what we saw on Thursday Night. An ingenious pairing with brilliant accents and falling wall, props that didn't work as they should. Love Love Love this idea and would also love to see Bear Left do this in full with the same cast and the same outlook.
We also got to see a section from "Henry IV" with Prince Hal ( or should that be Prince Harry?) as a party animal getting a call on his mobile from his father. Again a wonderfully wacky version of this scene.
"Henry VI - part one" gave us a battlefield scene and the conversation between the Mother and son fighting the same battle.
"Hamlet" was another straight piece, and very powerfully done, going to show that this group are perfectly able to present Shakespeare in its' purest form, as well as being able to have fun with the script.
Also in with the first section was a wonderfully comical and funky choreographed dance piece to Sonnet 18, "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day" which drew a round of applause form the eager audience.
Come the interval, which I couldn't to get out of the way because I really couldn't wait for what was to come, having so enjoyed the first section. They opened with a scene from "Henry V" where Henry had won the war and was asking for the hand in marriage of Katherine, with some lovely comedy language elements.
"Love's Labour's Lost" was what you'd expect from a University scenario in Shakespeare's day with four students, stating that they wanted nothing to do with love but then discovering about the secret odes, dedicated to their loves.
There was no messing around with the "Romeo & Juliet" scene. Another faithful presentation in the scene where Romeo has just spent the night with Juliet and has to leave. Neither want to tear themselves away form each other. Tenderly done with real emotion between Sally and Mark, who were playing the two lovers.One of my favourite scenes in Thursday's show.
"Macbeth" has always been my favourite tragedy, and I've found that much as I love the playing around with a script, I've always preferred the straight, no nonsense drama of this piece. Bear Left decided to do this as it should be presented, as a very dramatic piece, so thank you for keeping the faith with this one.
Then something that I knew was coming but, and I'll tell you the truth, i did not expect this to be as brilliant as it was. Another choreographed piece to Sonnet 128. A gorgeously sultry rumba, which I believe was choreographed by John Gill and executed with great passion by four of the cast. A lovely surprise which highlighted Sally as a really good dancer, and she looked amazing in the dress she wore for the dance. I hope she won't mind me saying but she has great legs and should show then off more.
The whole cast, who played several parts each, worked so hard and it always surprises me that Bear Left do not get a larger audience because they put on some wonderful pieces of theatre, deserving of big audiences to witness the quality they produce.
Arun Hayes adds comedy to the cast with his parts,and also reveals himself as a pretty good dancer as well.
Samantha Hedley and Rosanne Priest, I am sure I have not seen before but they are excellent in everything that they present here.
Claire Waterall, I know from other productions, so I knew to expect quality, and that's what I got.
Sally Nix shows off her comic, as well as her straight Shakespeare background in theatre; both are well contrasted, and both suit her talents. And as I said earlier in the review, i didn't realise what a lovely dancer she is. A light that she had kept well and truly hidden under her bushel!
Sally also directed this piece of theatre, and she got the balance spot on, and I know I keep going on about this but I really wish more theatre goers would discover Sally and her Bear Left productions and support them by buying their tickets. You really are missing out on quality on a budget price ticket.
Finally, another newish name to me in the form of Mark Wisdom. Mark has a real flair and a natural feel for Shakespeare. The speeches just roll off of his tongue, like a second language. Like the others, he can do comedy as well as serious Shakespeare, with proficiency.
I have seen actors, and not necessarily Shakespeare, who are brilliant at straight acting but fail to deliver comedy, and vice versa, but this young group have both nailed and you feel extremely comfortable watching all of them.
I started off the review by saying that this was bad news, and it is because this show is a one off for Thursday Night only. If you didn't buy tickets, well tough, you've missed an incredibly good evening of some of the best of Shakespeare,presented by a group who love his plays and have a really solid background in his style of play, be it comedy or tragedy, or whatever style.
You missed out! Make sure you don't miss their next show which is "Treasure Island" on 14th and 15th April, also at Bonington Theatre.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

"Made In Dagenham" by West Bridgford Operatic Society.
The Space, Nottingham Girls High School.
The musical documents the Dagenham Ford Motor Car uprising of 1968 when the women at the plant went on strike to, initially gain equality. This then escalated to an issue over pay equality.
Apart from this, Rita also has to manage her husband, home and kids. Her son, Graham, is being caned at school, so she has this to deal with as well. This also brings her into contact with another parent, whose son is also being caned, and turns out to be a useful ally for work.
Rita O Grady, a fictional character, spearheads the dispute which almost ends her marriage, but manages to get equality on many levels after addressing the TUC conference. While there is cause for celebration, by the end of the fight, there is loss as well.
Cat Tuckey (Rita O Grady) is on fine form in every sense and brings the feisty out of Rita. Her vocals are superb, especially highlighted in the Act Two song "Nearly Had It All". The TUC speech is delivered with passion and emotion.
Rob Holsman (Eddie O Grady) is the husband pushed to the end of his tether, forcing him to make drastic decisions. You get to see a change in Eddie as the play progresses,and Rob's vocals in another emotion packed song, "The Letter", are also superb.
Jacky Tivers (Connie) plays the Shop Steward for the women who gives Rita the platform to represent the girls. When her medical condition worsens she tells Rita that she has to go to the TUC conference, a job that Connie was supposed to be doing. A lovely strong, principled character which provides Jacky the chance to show her vocals off in "Same Old Story"
Jo Hooper (Beryl) is wonderfully foul-mouthed, well the character is anyway. Much of the comedy is from Beryl just by having that common touch and being down to earth.Ballsy, bolshy and inappropriate, but with a heart of gold.
Sarah Walker-Smith (Barbara Castle) nails the accent and the fiery character - just like her hair. Love her solo in "An Ideal World".
Diana Ives (Lisa Hopkins) plays Rita's ally, and is also the wife of the Ford Plant's Managing Director, played by a smooth faced Gareth Morris. These two characters are opposites with Hopkins well and truly treating the educated Lisa as the stereotypical 1960's stay-at-home housewife.
Richard Ives (Harold Wilson) plays the lampooned PM as a clueless, sexist buffoon. Richard does comedy well, as proven in this role.
Martin Thomas (Monty) is the Shop Steward in the play who has history with Connie.
Ian Pottage (Tooley) is wonderful in his role as the American Ford Motor Company Executive. His OTT, stereotypical American, "everything is bigger and better in the States" persona extracted some booing from the audience, but only in a panto style at the end of the show. He did a cracking rendition of "This Is America", which opened Act Two.
This show has a massive male and female ensemble, doubling as some of the minor characters.
Natalie Hemington (Sandra), the dolly bird who accepts an offer to promote the new Cortina. 
Sarah Shields (Clare) who could never find the right words for what she wanted to say, Courtney Kelham-Giddy (Cass), Sean Collins (Sid - The Shop Steward), David Gyles (Bill - A Shop Steward), Alasdair Maughan (Stan), Chris Heeley (Barry/Cortina Man), Bill Cooper (Ron Macer - The Production Manager), , Chris Hollins (Gregory Hubble - Personal Director), Julie Fowler, Becky Kirkham and Danielle Rodgers (Aides to Harold Wilson), Jill Hemington (Personal Assistant to Barbara Castle), Emily Wright (Graham O Grady), Georgia Williams (Sharon O Grady), Malcolm Cocking (Mr Buckton The Schoolmaster) and James Crabtree (Chubby Chaff - the sexist club comedian).
There's then another eighteen cast members playing un-named roles.
Directed by Tom Parry, he kept the show running at a fast pace throughout. This is also thanks to the stage management by Amy Rogers-GeeNigel Newton and Robert Keighery.
Choreographed by Sarah Shields,and with such a large cast and ensemble, I can only imagine that this was no easy task to choreograph. the results stand up for themselves though.
Musically Directed by Sam Griffiths,so it goes without saying that the music is going to be of the highest quality. He manages to bring the best vocals out of the actors and the ensemble sections are like listening to a wall of sound, such is the power.
It's always a good sound quality at The Space, and in charge of this area is Rob Kettridge.
Lighting Design is by Nick Gale, which was executed perfectly. Now, I've never really noticed, but are there no follow spots at The Space? There were a couple of times that I thought could have benefited from having a spot on a couple of the actors, but were left in the shade.
I love this musical, mainly because of the characters and being based on true events, but for me the second Act seemed to be stronger than the first. There seemed to be more gusto and energy in Act two and that is when the production seemed to get going, and I don't know why that is.
The singing was stronger, on the whole, in the second Act, but I did love the title song, "Busy Women", "I'm Sorry I Love You", and the rousing "Everybody Out" closing the first Act. There's another big crowd pleasing anthem to close the show as well in "Stand Up".
This show, and the production of the show, will leave you with a lovely warm, fire in the belly feeling when you leave the theatre, and these songs will become ear-worms to you over the next few days, especially if this is the first time of seeing the show.
"Made In Dagenham" is at The Space at the Nottingham Girls High School until Saturday 22 February. Can you af Ford to miss such a brilliantly entertaining and strong female focused musical this week?
Pictures by Gavin Mawditt