SOCIETY- St Paul’s Players
PRODUCTION—Made in Dagenham
Review by—Patricia Connor
Date- 9th March 2017
Made in Dagenham has music written by David Arnold with lyrics by Richard Thomas and is from a book by Richard Bean, it is based on the 2010 movie of the same name, which was itself based on a true story that reshaped workers’ rights in Britain. The story follows the account of the Ford female machinists who went on strike in 1968 after their jobs were re-classified as unskilled, the strike and the women’s determination also paved the way for legislation on equal pay, this all happened at a time when the Labour party were in power during the time of Harold Wilson’s premiership. The show delivers a strong feminist message and has a number of spirited female characters, such as Rita O’Grady excellently played with strength and a great deal of purpose by Beth Eccleshare, who becomes a reluctant spokesperson for the women and takes the fight to the House of Commons accompanied by Connie the Union Shop Steward, sympathetically and nicely played by Jacqui Brian. On her visit to Parliament Rita meets Barbara Castle- Lily Blundell who produced a forthright and enjoyable characterisation, Rita also meets a very comical Prime Minister Harold Wilson -Paul Stanley who made me look at Harold Wilson in a completely different light. She also speaks to the TUC Conference where she calls for the delegates to stand up for women workers, but unfortunately all the campaigning and fighting has consequences as along the way her bemused but loyal husband Eddie O’Grady and children start to feel neglected. Dave Moloney as Eddie complemented Beth very well, they made a believable couple and his rendition of the song “The Letter” was excellently performed and very poignant. Rita is supported by a number of her friends and colleagues who were all strongly played producing a number of very different interesting characters, they were Katie Toole as Clare, Jane Catterall as Beryl, Kathy Turton as Cass, Hilary Brownson- Hardman as Sandra and Joanne Hornby as the plant bosses’ wife Lisa Hopkins. There were also good strong characters from the men in the cast who included Andrew Turton as the Union Steward Monty who was the women’s representative to the bosses, Chris Hatchman as Mr Tooley the American owner of the plant, Jamie Fletcher as the Plant Manager Mr Hopkins, with Jack Corrigan as Sid and Phil Armstrong as Bill. There were also two lovely performances from Madeleine Hornby and Joe Harrison as Rita and Eddies’ children with Myah Brookfield and Harry Cohen playing these roles on other nights. The Ensemble all worked hard with lots of energy supporting the principle cast very well producing some noteworthy characters of their own. Diction, accents and clarity of words were more than acceptable so the story could be followed easily.
The band led by Musical Director James Eccleshare played and supported the cast superbly, there position behind the scenes meant the sound was at just the right level enabling the audience to hear the singers. The lively choreography by Lily Blundell was just right for the production adding to the performance and was executed by the cast well, also well done to Dance Captain Emily Burnside.
The set gave the impression that lots of car parts were hung around the stage and was very innovative and effective it reminded me of a Maccano set, well done to the set builders, stage crew and technical crew for doing an excellent job. Costumes 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 of the production.
This was and energetic, fast paced, feel good production which everybody appeared to enjoy being part off. Congratulations must go to Director Steve Blundell, Producer and Choreographer Lily Blundell and Musical Director James Eccleshare and anybody involved in bringing this show to the stage as this was an outstanding production.