Review: WODS’ Made In Dagenham – energetic, moving and hilarious

PUBLISHED: 07:43 03 November 2017

The Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben Hurst

The Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben Hurst

Ben Hurst

Worle Operatic and Dramatic Society (WODS) Musical Theatre Group has pulled together another energetic and entertaining show with Made In Dagenham at Weston-super-Mare’s Blakehay Theatre – and the audience must have had high expectations since the show will enjoy a sold-out run this weekend.

The Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben HurstThe Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben Hurst

Thankfully none of those who have booked tickets will be disappointed by this musical celebration of equality.

Made In Dagenham transports you back almost 50 years to a Ford factory, where its women find their jobs reclassified.

In the fight to have their work changed back from unskilled to skilled, their campaign stops being about themselves, but about equal pay for equal work for all women.

And for those of us who saw the headlines this week that women around the world will wait 217 years for the work pay gap to close, this was a much-needed uplifting reminder about how far we have come.

The Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben HurstThe Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben Hurst

Tamar Hankinson ably led the cast in the principal role of Rita, and her scenes with on-stage husband Eddie (played by Scott Riney) were touching and some of the most moving.

Expect to laugh, though, particularly at Cath Back’s Beryl, who produces some hilarious one-liners and caustic remarks.

Blair Ruddick’s Harold Wilson also provides the lighter moments. His pipe-chewing nervousness as the former Prime Minister could have edged too much into caricature, but Ruddick kept his physical comedy on the right side of entertaining, with great results. His tango scene with Laura James’ as firecracker Barbara Castle was wonderfully acted, and the pair shone every time they were on stage.

The ensemble should be celebrated, not just for their beautiful singing when the cast came together for the main songs, but for their efforts in dragging on and off a surprising amount of set – including a car.

The Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben HurstThe Made In Dagenham cast. Picture: Ben Hurst

There were a couple of opening night teething problems – earrings clanking against a mic, the music occasionally too loud for the vocals, and the vocalists themselves sometimes finding their mics were not switched on.

But those are technical glitches which can be ironed out by the time the show opens again this evening.

The battle was won, in part thanks to the efforts of those women made in Dagenham, but the fight continues – the UK’s gender pay gap has grown from 19.7 per cent to 20.8 per cent.

But for a couple of hours, we all enjoyed celebrating the efforts of the women who came before us, through song and dance and the brilliant production put together by WODS.

WODS Musical Theatre Group has pulled off another spectacular show – and if you missed tickets this time around, make sure you get some for Spectrum at Priory Community School on December 9, or A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Trop on August 2-4.

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