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Made in Dagenham

Date

25th April 2018

Society

Berwick-upon-Tweed Amateur Operatic Society

Venue

Maltings Berwick

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Robert Flynn

Musical Director

Mike Hardy

Choreographer

Angela Winson

Report

Author: R J Lowry

Made in Dagenham is a testing production for any company, professional or amateur. It has a modern theme (sex discrimination and equal pay) but is steeped in the recent past and the material can be a bit strong for some organisations used to more gentle stories and their treatment. Get it wrong and it can be uncomfortable: for example sprinkle too much menace over the political elements and it can be an unhappy spectacle (a slight miss might as well be a mile); get it right and the audience are in for a treat. Berwick Operatic Society is firmly in the latter camp – a good time was had by all, both in the auditorium and on the stage (as one audience member put it, the “spirited performance” set the theatre alight). The open set was well suited to the venue and the show. The orchestra was more than just on stage: they really were part of the action and strongly complimented the atmosphere generated by the company (well done Mike Hardy and the players). The ensemble positively portrayed the cultural norms of the various factions of the time with zeal and pace (I was there during that time when I worked as a coach driver and in a bra factory. The company transported me back there with all the attached feelings from those days). If I had to mention one member of the chorus it would be Morgan Flannigan (Stan) who put on a performance beyond his years. Of course the principals earned their places at the top of the bill: Sandra Storey (Claire)was great as the woolly-minded worker; Dylis Guthrie portrayed the foul-mouthed Beryl without giving offence (a difficult balancing act); Kelis Bloomfield and Corey Learmonth were charming as Rita and Eddies children; Bill Shardlow was a hoot as Harold Wilson; Slink Jadranko portrayed Eddie O’Grady with a fine range of emotions; Nicola Salonsky played Connie and who sang  such a heart-warming solo 'The Same Old Story’; and Kirsty Jamieson who was Barbara Castle and sang 'Ideal World', an outstanding performance of the song as well as the portrayal of the character. But the best Rita O’Grady I have seen goes to Lynn Ireland who held centre stage without flagging or upstaging the many other talented performers. It’s a difficult role to do well and it can be over- or under-played but Lynn was spot on. The company can be very proud of this show (even the programme was outstanding, portrayed as a Haynes manual). All the hard work has paid off handsomely.