A hilarious and heart-warming comedy staged with grit and irresistible energy
Set in the late 60s, Made in Dagenham, written by David Arnold and Richard Thomas (book by Richard Bean), centres around ordinary housewife and mum, Rita O'Grady, who acts as spokeswomen for the female workers at the Ford Dagenham plant. The group go on strike when they realise the evident inequality in pay, with females being classified as ‘unskilled’ and male workers being classified as ‘skilled’ and therefore on better wages. Based on true-life events of the Ford sewing machinist strike of 1968 this lively musical is based on the 2010 film which received four BAFTA nominations including Outstanding British film.
The power three – Paul Lumsden (Director), Sheila Pearson (Musical Director) and Maggie Jackson (Choreographer) have competently brought this hilarious, large-cast comedy to the stage with huge enthusiasm. With an excellent cast, band and technical team never a moment goes by without a clever and unexpected delight to keep the audience toe-tapping and in stitches which is exactly what you want from an evening’s entertainment.
Made in Dagenham is a heart-warming story that neither idealises or patronises; with some excellently and hilariously-portrayed chauvinism, typical of the era, it portrays women with unforgiving resilience yet unreserved humour. Charlotte Middleton stars as machinist-turned-spokeswoman, Rita, and leads the musical with her unfaltering voice and excellent character portrayal, with Patrick Jervis superb as husband Eddie.
Glowingly lovely performances are given by young actors Lewis and Kirsten McLaren who delight the audience throughout the show as the O’Grady children, Graham and Sharon.
Clare Pugh is tremendous as the potty-mouth Beryl, the audience clearly appreciating her comic timing and farcical sarcasm. Terrific work too comes from Emma Hill, Sally-Jane Adams, Paula Lumsden and Jo McWillie together with a super supporting ensemble who, although too large to mention individually, should be commended for being a company who find all the comic rhythms and emotion the story requires.
The period feeling of the 60s is well commended in the work of Maggie Jackson, Choreographer, and special mention must go to those routines with a bright and cheeky wit of their own complimented by an array of hot pants and knee-length boots to die for.
Loved Harold Wilson (James Pugh), although at first glance one could be forgiven for mistaking him for Columbo, but the accent and characterisation was well received, as was his brief appearance in a bumper car, much to the delight of the audience. And an equally excellent and well-sung performance by Vickie Beck as Labour politician Barbara Castle, sporting fantastic red hair in the perfect cut.
Good-looking, slick and hardly noticeable set transformations are complemented nicely with lighting that washed across the stage or made the necessary statement at the perfect moment. Just a few unfortunate technical hitches with intermittent microphones but this didn’t phase the performers as they sailed confidently through the quiet gaps with sufficient projection to ensure nothing was lost to the plot. Congratulations to wardrobe (Suzanne Harris) for managing such a large cast with so many costume changes, and how wonderful to see a real Ford Cortina Mark 1, or was it half a Cortina? Nevertheless no expense was spared in props, set or energy resulting in a great, great show.
Contains occasional strong language. Runs to 1 April 2017.
Love Midlands Theatre
Sharing the latest theatre news and reviews around the Midlands.