Made in Dagenham

Date 12th April 2019
Society Devizes Musical Theatre
Venue Dauntsey's school, Market Lavington
Type of Production Musical
Director Peter Nelson
Musical Director Susan Braunton
Choreographer Jacqui Davidson

Report

Author: Dee Way

This is a show that requires the creation of sharp contrasts between the factory floor, a modest home, a manager's office, a car showroom, the House of Commons and a TUC conference. These set up the core of the story, with workers uncomfortable in the manager's office and the managers uncomfortable on the shop floor.

The Direction was very well planned, with good movement across the stage and good focus on parts of scenes when appropriate.  There were many sections of the production that worked very well.  There was very good use made of the large stage area in the factory scenes, with plenty of room for the angst between the men and women to be clearly portrayed.

The set was simple and adapted well to the various backgrounds, largely due to the projected scenes on the backcloth.  These images very nicely set the scenes - and the period - and worked very well with the touches of physical scenery that were added at times.  The Cortina car was very ingeniously built on stage behind a sheet - although it was a shame that the illusion was not continued through the dismantling.   The strike scenes were particularly strong, with the placards, brazier and feeling of cold. Set changes on the whole were well planned and executed and the stage crew worked well together.

The music was very well played and adjusted well to the singer's timings and volume. This meant that at all times, the words of the songs were distinct and the mood clearly portrayed.  The sound generally was well balanced, apart from the odd occasion when the microphones were on late.  Sound effects were excellent, with good cueing and volume control.

The costumes for this show needed to reflect the period but I was surprised to see quite so many miniskirts and court shoes.  Make up was good, with Barbara Castle looking very close to her real self - and very unlike her true persona.  

The acting and singing, in particular by the leads, was excellent. Beryl, Eddie and Rita were particularly well played, with excellent solos and good duets. Barbara Castle was very well played, with a lovely sharpness to her spoken delivery. Harold Wilson is always difficult to play but this was well done, with good singing - and pipe smoking!  The chorus also played their parts well with some nicely defined characters among both the men and the women.  However the strongest section of the show for me were the strike scenes, which were totally convincing and very dramatic.