Thanks to the numerous books, films and TV programmes covering the subject, we’re all now very aware of the operations that took place at Bletchley Park during the second World War, and how the secretive work of the women based there helped the allies defeat the Nazi’s. New musical Dots and Dashes: a Bletchley Park Musical explores the subject further in it’s run at Army @ the Fringe.
It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the existence of Bletchley Park was made public knowledge, ‘Loose lips sink ships’ was the mantra the women who worked there had to abide by, hiding their work from their closest families and loved ones, often for many years after they had finished working.
This is where Dots and Dashes excels, as it thoroughly delves into these women’s lives, the heartache they faced, and how they turned to each other for support when they couldn’t talk to anyone beyond the confines of the hut in which they worked.
There’s lots of fascinating information about how life at Bletchley Park actually worked, but it brings in the themes that affected individual women, like Dorothy’s (Amber-May Hutton) inability to have an abortion, as the procedure was still illegal. Also still outlawed was homosexuality, another aspect that is explored.
Dots and Dashes, written by the company, is clearly well-researched, adding in aspects of life at Bletchley Park that many of us would never even have considered. In one of the most poignant moments, and one that affects Blanche (Katie Damer), we find out that the women often knew that their brothers or lovers were in danger, but couldn’t act on the information to save them.
For a musical, there aren’t all that many songs, but the numbers we do get are all nice musical theatre pieces. The opening number, performed by the ‘Bombshell Babes’ gives us a satirical viewpoint from the outbreak of war, by the time we reach a version of ‘We’ll Meet Again’, there’s barely a dry eye in the house.
The six-strong company of ChopLogic productions are to be commended for this thoughtfully written musical that gives voices to the brave women, who not only helped win the war, but knew they had to stay silent about what they were doing. Dots and Dashes is a heart warming musical with an important message at it’s core.