Dots and Dashes: A Bletchley Park Musical
Charlotte Henning and Katie Damer
Army @ The Fringe
Army @ The Fringe at The Drill Hall is a fairly new venue that curates a military related programme of productions especially for the Fringe. The personnel are all cadet officers who make you feel exceedingly welcome.
So, it is appropriate that Chop Logic Productions should be performing its all-female Dots and Dashes: A Bletchley Park Musical about the women, sworn to secrecy, who worked in the decoding section and whose work shortened World War II by two years.
It’s a close-knit community with many of the girls recruited through completing a special crossword puzzle. Into this intense atmosphere, the new girl Josephine is tasked with operating the typex machine.
They are all performing vital jobs as part of a crucial team recovering messages in shifts with codes that change every day and posters reminding them to "keep calm and carry on."
They also form friendships relying on each other for moral support and share personal details of their lives.
Dorothy finds herself pregnant but is unable to have an abortion as it was still illegal in the '40s and they also touch on same-sex relationships and the role of women to marry and have children.
Poignantly, Blanche discovers that her brother is in mortal danger but can do nothing to avert his death as his ship goes down.
Cleverly interspersed Pathé footage highlights the war’s development and the plan to divert the Nazis to Calais is successful, leaving the path clear for the invasion in Normandy.
Charlotte Fenning and Kate Damer’s script and score capture the period perfectly and the harmonious singing is delightful. With inventive choreography, this is an engaging musical that has an important story to tell.
Reviewer: Robin Strapp