Review: Made in Dagenham, Harrogate Theatre

Made in Dagenham runs until Saturday
Made in Dagenham runs until Saturday

The stage adaptation of the hit film Made in Dagenham has been brought to the Harrogate Theatre stage by Harrogate Phoenix Players this week.

The company is wowing audiences with the sights, sounds and political tensions of the late 1960s – all with a show-stopping array of songs and performances thrown in.

With the show’s lead role of Rita O’Grady already famously portrayed by Sally Hawkins and Gemma Arterton in the film and West End productions respectively, it was a tough act to follow for Kitty Watson.

But she effortlessly makes the part her own, showing a maturity and depth of feeling beyond her years, bringing the perfect balance of steely resolve and vulnerability to her performance.

As Rita’s well meaning, but out of his depth husband Eddie, Sam McKenzie is instantly likeable, adding subtle touches of bashful charm and exasperation to the part.

In among the vibrant feel-good numbers, the pair really tug at the heart strings with their solos The Letter and We Nearly Had It All.

Husband and wife pair Richard and Rowena Naylor impress as Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle, with unsurprisingly excellent chemistry and impeccable comic timing, as they bring the era’s political heavyweights back to life with entertaining results.

Indeed, superb comic timing is a theme of this production, as foul-mouthed factory worker Beryl – played by Liz Kelly.

Morally misguided personnel director Gregory Hubble, played by Jamie Lawrence, utilise it to great effect with moments of individual hilarity.

There are plenty of vibrant songs making the most of the 1960s’ fondly remembered musical styles.

Rob Hasting’s performance as a smooth moving, crooning Cortina salesman is a standout moment, backed up by some slick and well executed choreography from his backing dancers.

Elsewhere good use of high-tempo, eye-catching dancing gets the second half off to an energetic start.

In Made in Dagenham Harrogate Phoenix Players give a timely reminder of where the ongoing fight for equality began, while in the process creating one of their most watchable and highly enjoyable productions in recent years.

Once again under the guidance of director Mark Edwards and musical director Oliver Longstaff, the pair get the best out of a strong ensemble cast, building to a dazzling crescendo at the show’s end.

Made in Dagenham runs until Saturday February 3, daily at 7:30pm and a matinee performance on Saturday at 2.30pm.

To buy tickets, go to www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/Made-In-Dagenham or contact the box office direct on 01423 502116.