By Christye McKinney
Made in Dagenham, a musical based on the film of the same name, tells the true story of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant. It recounts the event of 850 female workers walking out in protest of sexual discrimination in a show that will provoke thoughts, laughter and tears in equal measure.
Dagenham born and bred, the assistant producer Jennifer Tarling told me the story was embedded in her as a child. It particularly resonates with her given that her dad even worked in a Ford showroom, and her mum is coming all the way from Essex to see Durham’s production of such a heartfelt and important story. But Joanna Boyle, the director, explained how the cast are really making their own interpretations of the characters – many of them have made efforts not to see the film. The relationships played out on stage reflect genuine friendships made during rehearsals, and that sense of camaraderie should hopefully make the musical all the more believable.
This is important since, with women’s marches, protests and walk outs across the world today, Made in Dagenham continues to bear obvious relevance for contemporary society. After all, it’s a light-hearted treatment of issues that remain important in a world where women are currently striking for their abortion rights – one character, Tooley, played by Jake Goldman, apparently has interesting parallels to Donald Trump. For those that have seen the film, the stage production also has a greater focus on the male characters involved. The transition in the attitudes of the men, especially the leads, from barely comprehending the idea of equal pay, to an acceptance and even avocation of the idea, is really brought out in what is really a story of adaptation.
Politics aside, there is a great variety of humour – from sexist digs, quick wit to slapstick comedy – with surely a joke for everyone. It is clear that the musical brings out that funnier side to the story, and if nothing else, watching the boys try to dance I’ve heard is just as comical as the script.
Empowering and, above all, entertaining, Made in Dagenham in my opinion is set to be one of the top shows of summative season. According to Wikipedia, Oxford University are also staging their own production of the musical in ‘early in 2017’ – but I think Durham’s FTC will give them a run for their money.
‘Made in Dagenham’ will be performed in the Assembly Rooms from Thursday, 23rd February, until Saturday 25th of February at 19:30. Book your tickets here.