The Matchgirls

Performances: 15-18 November 2023, Betchworth Village Hall

Director: Alison Cooper

Musical Director: Ian Stone

A rarely-performed musical by Bill Owen and Tony Russell. In 1888 female workers at the Bryant & May match factory in one of the poorest areas of East London went on strike for fair pay and safer working conditions. Many had been seriously affected by contact with white phosphorus (causing conditions such as ‘phossy jaw’) and the low wages were reduced even further by frequent fines. For more historical background visit

Written in the 1960s, The Matchgirls dramatizes their struggle which attracted public support and resulted in historic new rights being established - eventually the use of white phosphorus was banned. Despite the subject and the grim setting, the musical contains plenty of humour and upbeat songs, as the traditional Cockney spirit rises above the darkest moments

Presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. on behalf of Samuel French Ltd.

The production was reviewed for NODA by Graham Botterill


Kate Kelly Cross
Polly Jane Khan
Mrs Purkiss  Sarah Esser-Haswell
Old Min Diane Mayall
Jessie Christina Usher
Maggie Joanne Packham
Beattie Julie Bickerdike
Winnie Linda Slater
Nell Emoke Soproni
Dot Tracey Hulf
Louie Georgia Bishop
Mrs Harris Jane Johnson
Ruby/Scots girl Dee Coutts
Joe Stephen Tickell
Perce Peter Telford
Bert Gerald Hulf
Fred Roger Nelson
Tom/Mr Mynel  Peter Thomas
Mr Potter David Eccles
Annie Besant Jane Seymour
Paula Westerby  Jane Flanders
George Bernard Shaw  Julian Edney

Production Team

Lighting David Ames
Stage Manager Julian Edney
Set & costume design Alison Cooper
Set construction Julian Edney, Gerald Hulf, Tracey Hulf, Stephen Tickell
Set painting The Company
Makeup Julie Bickerdike
Front of House Julie Bickerdike, Selena Edney, Jane Flanders
Neil Mayall, Lynda Barrett-Mercer
Box Office Sam Stevens
Poster design Stephen Tickell
Programme Josh Packham
Dress Rehearsal photos  Geoff Martin