Made in Dagenham by Quay Players
Made in Dagenham by Quay Players
As many of my readers know I love supporting am dram and I not only love returning to societies time and time again to see how they face a challenge of a new show and how they have grown but I also love seeing societies work that I haven’t seen before. The latter was the case for Quay Players. I was therefore thrilled to get their invite to review Made in Dagenham. I was especially excited as it’s a show I performed in myself around a year ago but had never actually seen on stage.
Made in Dagenham is based on the true story of how the women of Ford went out on strike to get equal pay. The musical revolves around Rita O’Grady, a normal working mum, and her family as well as her colleagues in the factory. We meet Connie who has given her life to the Labour Party, Claire who struggles get her words out, Beryl who swears like a trooper, Sandra who is the glamourous one of the bunch and Cass who is determined to be an airline pilot by the time she is 35. This is all set to the backdrop of Harold Wilson’s England in 1968 when the Labour party were battling with the Unions. It’s a musical that shows us how far we have come for women’s equality yet reminds us that the journey isn’t over yet!
Quay Players were blessed with a group of strong leads to play the factory girls. Emily Bates plays Rita O’Grady and she struck the balance of working mum and inadverted activist perfectly. She came across with real fire in her belly when debating over equality and won over the whole audience by the end, women and men alike. Her vocals were strong and she resisted the temptation of oversinging some of her numbers and let her acting deliver the truth of them.
Julianne Palmer as Beryl had the audience in stitches throughout the show and Aimee Reynolds was well cast as Sandra, with the part allowing her to show off her both her singing and dancing talents. Miranda Evans as Claire was also likeable and her comedy timing, especially in her number Wossname, was well considered. On occasion I would have liked some of the ensemble to have as much conviction as some of the lead factory girls and really consider what they were singing about. At times they were a bit ‘tits and teeth’ rather than impassioned although they were all giving their all throughout the show.
Luke Lupton played Eddie O’Grady, Rita’s other half. He displayed good depth in the role in the conflict Eddie was going through. Keith Walters played Mr Tooley, Ford America’s boss and did a great job as the unlikeable, manipulative Yank with audience audibly booing him at one point. Overall a few of the men struggled with some of the choreography and perhaps some consideration could have been given as to how to use those that that were not natural dancers without detracting from those that could cope with the movement.
The stage at Greenwood Theatre is a large stage but the set was well designed and used in this space. The lighting design by Charlotte Gowers enhanced this. Costumes, designed by Emma Sheard were also fitting for the 1960’s whilst considering each of the characters and really helped place the show in the correct setting from the start.
The large band under instruction of Rachel Murphy produced a great sound. It would have however been good if in the ensemble numbers we were able to hear the harmonies better and if there was more volume from them, especially considering the number of women on the stage at some points.
Overall Made in Dagenham had strong production values and with the lead factory girls providing a real spark it made for a very enjoyable night. Thanks to Quay Players for inviting me and I look forward to seeing you future shows.
To find out more about Quay Players and their upcoming shows visit their website.