Search

Review: Made in Dagenham – the Musical at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 14:18 31 August 2016 | UPDATED: 14:19 31 August 2016

Angela Bain, Elizabeth Rowe, Sioned Saunders, Anthony Hunt, Martina Isibor, Sarah Scowen, Daniella Bowen in Made in Dagenham at the Queen's Theatre

Angela Bain, Elizabeth Rowe, Sioned Saunders, Anthony Hunt, Martina Isibor, Sarah Scowen, Daniella Bowen in Made in Dagenham at the Queen's Theatre

Queen's Theatre

An industrial dispute doesn’t sound like a great premise for a musical, but the story of the 1968 Ford machinists strike is bursting with drama, excitement, romance and plenty of laughs.

On its first tour outside the West End, it seems fitting that Made in Dagenham: The Musical should come to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, just five miles from the factory at which many audience members’ friends or family might have worked.

While the characters are very much Dagenham – brash, ballsy and fond of turning the air blue – they aren’t caricatures and thankfully there isn’t even a whisper of “apples and pears” or “roll out the barrels”.

And director Douglas Rintoul, whose mum worked at Ford, and his team have avoided glamorising the Swinging Sixties beyond recognition, so apart from the A-line skirts, quiffs and rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, the story is pretty timeless – except, of course, for the outdated pay scales.

The whole cast are fantastic. Full of energy and with spotless comic timing, they double up as the band, seamlessly (no pun intended) switching between dancing, singing and playing saxophones and trumpets in the wings to provide the show’s live music.

But apart from a special mention for Graham Kent as a completely buffoonish Harold Wilson, it’s the girls who inevitably steal the show.

Daniella Bowen stars as Rita O’Grady, the tentative protagonist of the show, a housewife, mother and Ford machinist who ends up leading the workers’ fight for equal pay.

Warm, feisty and funny, Rita insists she is no “women’s libber”, and even scoffs at her own daughter’s dream to become a doctor.

But as Rita slowly wakes up to the injustice of working women being paid less than men – 87 per cent, in fact – can she convince those in power to make change?

For such a serious subject matter, the show is wonderfully silly and irreverent, with Angela Bain’s dirty old machinist Beryl providing countless proper laugh-out-loud moments.

Another hilarious scene sees pipe-smoking premier Mr Wilson and his advisers skipping around waving a Union Jack handkerchief while singing about quantitative easing.

But it’s in the second half that things start to get serious, when Ford flies in its American muscle – bearing a striking resemblance to a certain Mr Trump – to whip the Brits into shape and grind down the strikers.

Will the women win their fight for equal pay? Well, we already know that they do, but the story of how they got there is exhilarating, moving and sobering.

What really struck me was the realisation that equal pay legislation for women was not inevitable. The incredible personal sacrifices of real working class women, and their families, were needed to force the hand of the unions, the politicians and eventually employers.

And as reported in the Recorder last week, almost 50 years on from the strike, there’s still a long way to go until women earn the same as men.

So, go for the songs, the jokes and a thoroughly brilliant night of entertainment, but leave inspired to stand up against injustice, because it still exists.

Made in Dagenham: The Musical runs at the Queen’s Theatre until September 17. For tickets call 01708 443333 or visit queens-theatre.co.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 15:00

Did you know that when you can’t see the Moon in the sky, he’s actually down here on earth, suited and booted and fighting crime?

Wed, 15:30

The countdown to Christmas has begun, and for theatre-lovers across the land that can mean only one thing – it’s pantomime time!

Wed, 14:42

A much-loved TV antiques expert will be giving a special talk on the Victorian Age to Havering’s avid historians and collectors at a special event this weekend.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

One of Romford’s most popular theatres is asking Havering’s residents to contribute to an online fundraiser so it can finally purchase proper seating.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

There’s nothing I like to do more than binge-watch a good mix of classic and terrible horror movies throughout Halloween week.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Kiki Dee, who sang on the Number 1 hit Don’t Go Breaking My Heart with Elton John, will be performing a special show in Hornchurch this month.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Three Havering performers are coming together to hold a charity concert in aid of a showbiz icon.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A classic musical performance remembering those who fought for Britain during the First World War, will soon take the stage at Queen’s Theatre.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now