Curtain Call Theatre Company stage a true to life story and reduce audience to tears.

On Tuesday night I visited Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury to watch the musical ‘Made in Dagenham’, presented by local amateur theatre company, Curtain Call.

The musical which tells the story of how Rita O’Grady, a machinist at Ford in Dagenham, fought for equal pay for women, and how her efforts almost destroyed her ten-year marriage. It features well-known public figures such as Barbara Castle, brilliantly played by Lisa Van Der Hurst and Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Taking place in the Walker Theatre, Theatre Severn provided a superb setting for this poignant story to unfold, with a set that looked just like the 2014 West End production, this performance promised to deliver.

In the leading role of Rita O’Grady, Ffion Davies demonstrated her ability to connect with the deeply rooted meaning of this piece of theatre, keeping the audience in the palm of hands throughout. Davies’ singing voice is unquestionably strong and a joy to listen to.

As with many amateur productions, there were a few moments that reminded us that this was not a professional production, with actors missing cues and forgetting lines, but these were dealt with well and did not distract us from following the well-told story.

I was hugely impressed with the vocal ability of Alix Davidson, who is a featured member of the ensemble and billed as a ‘soloist riffer’ - her vocal performance in ‘Everybody Out’ was hair-raisingly good, adding soul to the whole musical number.

The performance was supported by a five-piece band and musically directed by Matthew Hall. Hall’s attention to detail helped to journey each musical number, and was most impressive when the actors were singing in their most vulnerable moments, his direction married the scenes and music together.

George Hargrave played the leading man and Rita’s husband, Eddie. His portrayal was frank, and appropriately subtle. I was particularly impressed with how he became slowly less supportive of the equal pay strike. Hargrave showed his sheer professionalism, dealing with technical issues without any disruption to his performance.

Although a serious piece of theatre, this production had some belly-laughable moments, often delivered by ‘Potty Mouth’ Beryl played by the talented Ru Jones, and away-with-the-fairies Clare, played by the equally hilarious Bex Hope.

Forgetting the microphone malfunctions and visible scenes changes, this was a truly magical piece of theatre. It told a true story honestly and moved an audience to tears and their feet. Curtain Call should be proud of what they’ve produced.

Made in Dagenham runs from 15 - 17 May, for tickets visit: www.theatresevern.co.uk or call 01743 281281

 

Reviewer: Michael Jenkins

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