Made in Dagenham
10th November 2017
Little Theatre Southport
Type of Production
Author: Patricia Connor
Based on the 2010 movie of the same name, “Made in Dagenham” has music written by David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas and is from a book by Richard Bean. The show is based on the true story about the Ford female machinists who went on strike in 1968 after their jobs were re-classified as unskilled, the strike also paved the way for legislation on equal pay for women that reformed workers’ rights in Britain. This all happened during the time a Labour government was in power and when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister.
This was an outstanding production and there was an experienced production team who guided the talented cast, they were Director Betty Hall, Musical Director Charles Moss and Choreographer Alexandra Ashall. The show delivers a strong feminist message and has some very strong female characters, such as Rita O’Grady superbly played with resolve by Phoebe Hill, who was the reluctant spokesperson for the women and takes the fight to the House of Commons where she meets both an entertaining and forthright Barbara Castle - Jennifer Corcoran and a very comical Harold Wilson brilliantly played by Eric Fletcher. Rita is accompanied on her visit by supportive Connie the Union Shop Steward, very nicely played by Jan Monkley. Unfortunately, all the campaigning has major personal consequences for all the workers both men and women which causes a rift with her husband Eddie O’Grady played excellently by Lee Ashall. Phoebe and Lee made a very believable couple and Lee’s rendition of the song “The Letter” was well performed and very poignant. There were also lovely performances from the young actors in the roles of Rita and Eddie’s children who also start to feel neglected, they were Elliott Heap as Graham with Olivia Galley and Kathryn Dilworth sharing the role of Sharon. Rita was supported by her friends and colleagues who were all strongly played producing several very different interesting characters, who performed very well together and were very comedic they were Natalie Metcalfe as Beryl, Sophie Grant as Clare, Alexandra Ashall as Cass, Kimberley Russell as Sandra and Sarah McNalley as the plant bosses’ wife Lisa Hopkins. There were also good strong characters from the men in the cast who included Bob Cleverly as the women’s representative Union Steward Monty, Andrew Sloman as Mr Tooley the American owner of the plant, Brian Brady as the Plant Manager Mr Hopkins, and Barry Ruth as Cortina Man. The Ensemble and the actors in the smaller cameo roles all worked hard supporting the principle cast excellently producing some great characters of their own and performing the lively choreography very well with lots of energy. Diction, accents and clarity of words were very good so the story could be followed easily, although there was an occasional problem with the microphones. There was an expert orchestra led by Musical Director Charles Moss who played and supported the cast very well.
The multi-use set was effective as well as innovative and enabled smooth seamless transitions between scenes, well done to the stage crew and technical crew for doing a good job. Costumes hair and makeup were also spot on for the period, a great deal of thought must have gone into getting them just right, they also added to the feel and success of the production.
At the end of the show Rita also speaks to the TUC Conference where she calls for the delegates to stand up for women’s equal pay and the reaction in the auditorium was so strong that most of the audience stood with the cast which was great to see making an excellent end to the show.
This was an energetic, fast paced, feel good production which everybody appeared to enjoy being part off. Congratulations must go to the production team and anybody involved in bringing this show to the stage as this was an outstanding production. Thank you very much for inviting us.