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Review: 9 to 5, Upstairs At The Gatehouse

The fight for fairness may not be concluded with bosses being kidnapped and tied up in their own homes, but you never know

15 September, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Louise Olley stars as Doralee

YOU know the song, it’s become a bit of a hen night favourite. But for three quiz points, what’s the second verse? We can all hum Nine to five and sing “Whatta way to make-a-livin” but, for 99 per cent of the world, the rest is surely a blur.

The same goes for the film, which still pops up after Match Of The Day every now and then, as if it’s accepted we’ll stomach the theme tune but then kip through the rest of the story. Whatta a way to treat one of the top 20 grossing comedy films of all time.

A new production at Upstairs At The Gatehouse of the musical version risks going through the same motions, irritating everybody waiting for the show to start with alarm clock sound effects drilled through the theatre and racing through the signature song with its opening salvo. There are some stodgy moments where the cast seemed to be having more fun than the audience.

By the end, however, new life has been breathed into this revenge panto essentially through two standout gigs. Louise Olley avoids simply providing a Dolly Parton impression as she blitzes through the role of Doralee, the ditzy secretary who helps turn the tables on her awful boss. Alongside her, Pippa Winslow brilliantly takes command of a crowded stage as Violet, overlooked for promotion to make way for more men.

The film appeared in 1980 and, as the recent BBC pay charts show, nearly 40 years on women are still not paid equally for doing the same job. The fight for fairness may not be concluded with bosses being kidnapped and tied up in their own homes, but you never know.

The slapstick nature of the rebellion in this play, with its knowing looks mixed with neat choreography, gives opportunity for one or two laughs regardless. And that crowded stage is not a negative when the office is transformed into a country disco scene. When the band finds its groove, you may forget you don’t know the words.

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