In early March I took a risk in buying tickets for Made in Dagenham a few weeks before it’s closing date, despite knowing little about the story (I didn’t even know it was a film a few years prior!) I just knew from what I had heard and seen it looked interesting and that I was a bit of fan of Gemma Arterton.
We ended up second row at the beautiful and seemingly intimate Adelphi Theatre, and we were so close that we could see the cast spitting as they spoke or sang with emphasis!
As the show began, it was one of those shows where I knew straight away it was going to be good.
In simple terms, the story is based on the true story of the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 and the 2010 film of the same name. It depicts a tale about a group of young woman and the lead Rita O’Grady working for Ford in Dagenham in the late 1960s and their job of making/sewing the leather interiors and other fabrics for the cars, while the men work on the assembly line. Until it is announced they’re due a decrease in pay, that is until the woman reject it and begin a strike to campaign for equal pay amendments.
Together, the combination of the clever, comedic, emotional and empowering story and musical numbers that guides you through a story of history in reaching the creation of the Equal Pay Act 1970. Along the way, the subjects of courage, feminism and love/passion are all touched upon. To me, that’s what makes this musical unique, because you are being educated whilst also being entertained.
I found the casting to work perfectly. I was blown away by Gemma Arterton as Rita O'Grady, as she brought the character to life with such passion and strength. Equally, I found the characters of Beryl (played by Sophie Stanton) and Clare (played by Heather Craney) to be simply hilarious. I believe there was a character that everyone could relate to.
Similarly, the songs are amazing, just as they should be in a musical! I had the theme song “Made in Dagenham” stuck in my head for days after and for months I was hooked on the soundtrack (and still am).
I can hand on heart say I loved every minute of this show. It made me feel every emotion that theatre should make you feel. I felt happy, emotional, empowered, amused and by the end, I just wanted to be a part of the show!
The audience reaction at the end really captivated that feeling too, as over half of the theatre was standing up to give a huge round of applause with genuine joy.
I left with a huge smile on my face, and felt both excited like a child that had just been to Disneyland but empowered like a grown woman ready to take on the world.
I would have watched it again the next day if I could, and I’m so sad it ended because it was underrated in my opinion. Here’s hoping they make a UK tour or revival of it in the future, because I loved it!