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  • Writer's pictureSophie Harkness

Stage Vs Screen: Made In Dagenham

Hellooo! In March last year, I went to see a production of Made In Dagenham by the Woodhouse Musical Theatre Company at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. A full review of the show is currently on my to-do list however I thought I'd take this opportunity to write the first in a new series on my blog! Stage Vs Screen will take a show that's been made into a film (or vice versa) and look at the differences between the stage version and the film version. In the case of Made In Dagenham, the film was released in 2010 and the musical stage adaptation opened in London's West End in 2014.

The story behind both versions of Made In Dagenham was pretty similar, following mostly the same structure. The first main structural difference was that when the film opens, it jumps straight into the women in the Ford factory voting on whether or not to go on strike. The stage production spends more time setting up the characters and the story before the deciding vote which I preferred as it gave more of a background to the characters, helping the audience understand why they decided to vote to go on strike. I also thought that the stage version made more of a feature of the women in the Liverpool factory joining the strike, whereas the film version only briefly mentioned it. I preferred the stage version as it felt like a pivotal moment in the story but it only earned a quick mention in the film.

As for the characters, Rita O'Grady (the lady leading the strike) seemed to have more of a progression in the film version as she started out nervous and unsure of herself and grew stronger towards the end of the film. The stage version, on the other hand, displayed a more stable Rita throughout the show, with less of a progression as she already held herself with strength. The stage version of Made In Dagenham gave more focus to all of the women involved with the strike whereas the film focused predominantly on Rita. I liked that the stage version gave each of the women more of a history and individual identity. Connie's story line in the stage adaptation suited the story better and I can see why they decided to alter it from the film version. Her film story line stood out and didn't feel as though it fit in with the rest of the film whereas the stage version helped push the story forward and motivate the cause.

The ending was one of the biggest differences for me. My only problem with the stage adaptation was that the ending seemed to suddenly cut off the story and it felt rushed and after watching the film, I definitely preferred the original version. The film version was more realistic and tied up all the ends to the story, making it more complete, which was something I missed from the stage version. I also liked that the film ended with clips and photos from the real life women involved in the Ford strikes, along with clips of them in present day, looking back at their experience. Oh! And let's not forget that the stage version of Made In Dagenham was a musical! The production worked well as a musical and the songs fit the story well.

Overall, I enjoyed both versions of the story but I preferred the stage opening and the film ending. I also preferred the focus on more of the characters in the stage musical along with Connie's story line. I'd definitely recommend giving the stage musical and/or the film a watch as the feminism driven plot is definitely still relevant now.

Thanks for reading!


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