Set in a grim, beige office we’re introduced to three female protagonists who each for their own reasons reaches snapping point with their misogynist boss. After a series of unfortunate (and unlikely) events, they find themselves keeping the boss hostage in his own home while they secretly take control of the office. Cue cheery pot plants, bright stationery and, more importantly, flexitime. Behold! The work-life balance concept is born! I am being cynical about the political-social message of the musical but I can only applaud the verve with which it is delivered: think fun sets, pitch-perfect numbers, witty dialogue and a plot that trots along at an internet-affected attention span friendly pace. It’s a perfectly perky showcase for Dolly Parton’s superficial-yet-super musical genius.Amy Lennox plays Doralee and is immediately recognisable as Dolly herself. She struts and wiggles Parton-style with aplomb while her co-stars Natalie Casey (her from TV’s Two Pints of Lager and the original Hollyoaks [in the 90s, when it was good]) and Jackie Clune were simply born to play Judy and Violet. Their performances are very, very strong. However, Bonnie Langford, despite her having irritated me once in the early 90s and me not being able to let that go for nearly two decades, was just beyond brilliant. She plays ‘teacher’s pet’ Roz (i.e. in love with the boss and unwaveringly dedicated to the corporation) and despite being teeny tiny, filled the stage – the theatre, in fact – with shameless buffoonery and gobsmacking flexibility. Dang, she look good.
It would be nice to say that since the film 9–5 was released the efforts of the likes of Doralee and her gang has led to our working lives being improved. Sure, women are not groped over the photocopier anymore and we are now allowed to be (underpaid) senior managers; however, the truth is that whereas there may be more equality in the workplace there isn’t, in my experience, a great deal of happiness. The solution? Go see 9-5 – The Musical – it will cheer you up.