Yvonne Arnaud – until 15th June 2019
Reviewed by Heather Chalkley
A fast paced musical full of fun and antics, sending a clear social message through an accessible medium. The Pajama Game is based on the novel Seven and a Half Cents written by Richard Bissell. It comes from a strong pedigree first performed in the 50’s and revived many years later in both the West End and Broadway. It follows the progress of an ambitious young man from Chicago named Sid Sorokin (Oli Dickson).
Dickson (Sorokin) warms into his vocals, conveying passion and strength. Dickson (Sorokin) is caught between blue collar workers and the boss, is ambitious and in love. By the same token Ellie Sharpe (Babe) carries an air of confidence that lifts her above the rest, caught between her passion for fairness and her passion for Sid (Dickson). Both Dickson and Sharpe are great storytellers, carrying you in a quick step through their journey.
I have watched many films of that golden age. Ellie Sharpe (Babe) has a real twinkle of Doris Day in her performance, carrying herself with confidence and playful swagger. Oli Dickson cleverly gives Sid Sorokin that self-determination so reminiscent of that era.
The ensemble is a tight group of players, with great vocals, on pointe dance moves and terrific comedic timing. They transport you back to the 50’s pyjama factory, where the patriarchal leadership gives birth to a work family, bonded together in their fight for their rights. Funny and sad in places, full of energy and drive.
The creative team does a wonderful job keeping the costume relevant, bright and with a touch of humour when needed. The set is mobile and dynamic and thoroughly reflects the factory shop floor of that time, allowing quick changes with a noisy ensemble, making it feel completely natural.
If author Richard Bissell turned up to see the performance, he would be proud of what his book has achieved in this production. Bringing the message to the people that you must stick together and stand up for what you believe in, however powerful the adversary may be. Very relevant in Britain right now.