This Made In Dagenham experience was all thanks to my mentor and dear friend Naomi. Naomi has been helping me to rediscover confidence and belief. It is so easy to fall into a monotonous mindset and repeat the ‘eat, work, sleep‘ button. Realising attitude creates atmosphere, it’s all about creating a life which is less ordinary (referring to Naomi’s business) and striving for what YOU want. Let’s face it, life can throw some wicked curveballs, but learning how to respond to them is the true art of living.
Knowing my love for the theatre, Naomi suggested we should check out Made In Dagenham before it closes. I never decline on a theatre outing and, luckily, booked a pair of discounted stall tickets with LoveTheatre. As you can tell from my previous blog entries, I enjoy the unexpected, including my lack of knowledge on the show beforehand. Being a film fan, Naomi already had the upper hand, but I had the curious mind. In some ways, Naomi already knew the lesson I was about to encounter.
Described as West End’s ‘uplifting musical comedy’, Made In Dagenham is all about ‘friendship, love and the importance of fighting for what is right’. The vast amount of girl power certainly nailed the Spice Girls to the wall of shame. Gemma Arteton’s Rita O’Grady was practically a walking and talking version of myself, but owned her acting and singing talents. The story is based upon Rita’s love for living the ‘simple’ family life, but an uncontrollable force turns her life into crisis. Some critics could call Rita’s actions as a response towards an early ‘midlife crisis’ scenario, but I would certainly fire the two finger salute at them. Working the sewing room of Ford’s Dagenham car plant, Rita and her fellow female colleagues walkout in protest over sexual discrimination within the workplace. Their pay was downgraded to ‘unskilled’ and the men became unappreciative towards women, which becomes laughable as Rita questions the directors’ board on their sewing knowledge. Another strong female character, who captured my fellow audience members’ hearts, was Sophie Stanton’s Beryl. Her ‘fuck it’ attitude was hilarious and enabled Rita to gain a feminist bounce.
I am slightly gutted about the masculine dominance regarding this musical’s creation. Notice within the credits, the show was written, directed and composed by MEN! Personally, this does slightly dilute the play’s ‘women’s rights’ message and occurs a battle with the edge of scepticism within the making of our theatre. But come on, don’t let me dwell too much on this factor… Richard Thomas’ lyrics along with David Arnold’s musical talents created a sassy ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. My favourite numbers were ‘Everybody out’ and ‘Stand Up’.
I’m not the one for politics or a discussion of the Union, but I do know the difference between right and wrong (something which I feel the politicians fail to recognise). The production’s focus on equal pay can still be debated today, but Made In Dagenham highlighted that change can happen when ordinary people club together and achieve extraordinary results. Our flames of determination can indeed inspire others to no longer stand back, but stand up! It actually made me think of the lady heckler during the Leader’s debate as she pointed out to the audience ‘there is more of us than there are of them!’ (A moment that made me shout at the TV from my recliner and drop my box of maltesers!) I have always wondered what would happen if we all (directors included) walked out in protest- what would happen? Would it highlight our frustrations with government or look more like a school fire drill? Personally, politics is grounded by corruption. I believe Made In Dagenham addressed a sense of corruption lightly along with a sprinkle of optimism (come on it is a musical!)
Sadly, Made In Dageham is closing on 11th April 2015 so you better hurry and book your tickets!