MADE in Dagenham certainly struck a chord with the audience at Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch.
The historic tale of the 1968 Ford workers’ strike came to the stage as the first production of the theatre’s autumn season – and it didn’t disappoint.
Daniella Bowen put in a strong performance as reluctant heroine Rita O’Grady, who led a group of female factory workers in the fight for equal pay despite it nearly tearing her family apart.
Although Bowen took the lead, her supporting cast excelled in presenting the different personalities in the factory – from sweary Beryl (Angela Bain) to ditzy Clare (Sarah Scowen).
The performance brought the perfect balance of humour, emotion and the serious message of equality and a fight for justice that remains significant today.
Given the Dagenham setting of the show, just a few miles away from Hornchurch, the local in-jokes were well received and gave a glimpse into what life was really like in the area back in the 60s.
The play also used the audience to good effect, with the trade union conference scene that concluded the show making those watching feel as if they were there.
A couple of the songs seemed a little unnecessarily slapstick, trying to force laughter that wasn’t required as the different personalities brought a natural wit to the stage.
If you want to combine humour with history and learn about a truly inspirational group of women, this Queen’s production is one to see.