Made in Dagenham

Date 21st September 2017
Society In Your Face Theatre (Seaham)
Venue Seaham Town Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Helen Abraham
Musical Director Tim Jasper

Report

Author: Peter Oliver

In your face Theatre Seaham have chosen another hard hitting production, “Made in Dagenham” for this year’s production. This adaptation of the book by Richard Bean and later a motion movie before opening in the Adelphie Theatre London in November 2014 as a musical is centred around the true life events of the 1968 strike of the  female sewing machinist’s employed at the Ford Factory in Dagenham when they discovered that the management  team were going to downgrade their status to that of an unskilled worker, which in turn led to changes in legislation and the creation of the Equal Pay Act. This was the first time that I had seen this show so I didn’t know what to expect, I was informed that there was some strong language which may not be to everyone taste, but this did not deter the packed audience on the night I attended and under the direction of Helen Abraham who assembled a talented cast to deliver a show with grit, determination, strength and vigour. The production team did a fantastic job in ensuring that the set looked fantastic and authentic from the details in the O’Grady kitchen, to the simplicity of the factory floor and even the Prime Minister’s office each and every scene enabled the cast to maximise the space and deliver a great production. The  costumes were well researched and executed, I particularly liked the men’s Cortina work wear which looked great, lighting and sound were excellent and the band under the direction of Tim Jasper was well balanced and were strategically placed which ensured that they never overshadowed the singing.

The whole cast were totally committed in delivering a slick performance, and it was evident from the opening scene that the audience were in for a treat. The show principally follows the main character of Rita O’Grady played by Stephanie Peacock the reluctant leader of the campaign, great vocals and played the character well some fantastic emotional scenes with her family and colleagues depicting a wonderful and moving performance, good performances from her children Sharon and Graham played by Emily Kerr and James Cox. Her devoted husband Eddie was confidently played by Jon Isbell he showed such emotion in both his singing and acting and his rendition of “The Letter” was delivered with such passion and pathos. I loved the tenderness show by Rita and Eddie and there musical numbers “I’m Sorry I Love You”, “We Nearly Had It All” and “Stand Up” were well delivered and showed the enormous talent of both these actors and the chorus. There was strong support from the other female principals Norma Ord delivered a great performance as shop Steward Connie Riley excellent stage presence and delivered her scenes well, Yvonne Newton delivered an unashamedly portrayal of the feisty character Beryl as did Deborah Taylor Smith as bubbly, spirited Sandra Beaumont, great performance from Alexandra Cox as Clare the rather scatterbrain worker, great performances from Rebecca Smith as Cass, Irene Smith as Emma, Liz Sergeant as Jo and Amelia Lambert as Rachel, Aimee Honnor as a factory worker and a solid performance from Catherine Hillam as the boss’s wife.  

The male cast were as equally strong; Peter Round delivered a strong performance as the club comedian Chubby Chuff, the smug and intimidating teacher Mr Buckton and Gregory Hubble the personnel Director at the factory, Alie Roberts delivered the loud bullish, arrogant American hotshot factory owner Mr Tooley, I enjoyed how his entrance was staged with his cowboy hat, good characterisation. Strong performances from Shaun Crosby as Bill Hopkins the director of Ford Dagenham, Barry Thomas as Monty the union Rep, Corey Clarke as Barry the young apprentice, Paul Henry as Bill, David Jackson as Eddie’s friend Stan, Jonathan Ryan as Sid, Darrel Rush as Ron Macer the production manager and Club singer and Sam J Scott as Astro and the Cortina Man, loved the costume. Donna, Hanley was first class as Barbara Castle, great dialect and stage presence, she never coming out of character and her musical number “Ideal World” was terrific and sang from the heart. Whilst Jeff Page gave a sterling performance as Harold Wilson I loved how he portrayed this character and great vocals in “Always A Problem”.

The singing throughout delivered by either soloists or the ensemble was excellent, the choreography looked good taking into account the limited space and the whole show was full of emotion and energy with each and every one playing their part to deliver another success for In Your Face Theatre Seaham.