Made in Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre)

‘A traditional working class musical about industrial action that sits worthily alongside ”Billy Elliot, Brassed Off” and ”The Full Monty”’

Following the revival of the factory floor grievance committee musical The Pajama Game, this ebullient and sleekly presented home-grown riposte about the female machinists' strike over equal pay at the Dagenham Ford motor plant in 1968 feels like both an update and a re-run.

Gemma Arterton is absolutely terrific as Rita O’Grady – the Sally Hawkins role in Nigel Cole's 2010 movie – seriously Essexy as the reluctant heroine of the down-tools female cadre who marched into Parliament at the invitation of Barbara Castle, secretary of state for employment in Harold Wilson's Labour government, and delivered a heartfelt TUC conference speech (cheekily elided here with a final number imploring workers and audience alike to "Stand Up").

Castle advocated a compromise deal with the management at 92%, but Rita and friends stood firm and won the day though, for musical theatre purposes, she almost loses her husband. David Arnold, who wrote the music for the film, has, with director Rupert Goold, librettist Richard Bean and lyricist Richard Thomas – good to see him following through after Jerry Springer, Anna Nicole and (my personal favourite) Shoes at Sadler's Wells – created a traditional working class musical about industrial action that sits worthily alongside Billy Elliot, Brassed Off and The Full Monty (I'm still trying to forget one called Pull Both Ends, set in a cracker factory).

But, like those stage shows, it doesn't truly soar because the music and songs, while catchy and rhythmic alright, are old-fashioned, essentially uninteresting and overwhelmingly utilitarian. There's one song for Isla Blair's old class warrior about union agreements and government procedures that makes you want to run right out into the street and join Ukip.

That said, and mostly thanks to the authentic Arterton (well, she does come from Gravesend at least) and some stand-out casting right through the list, you do have a good time even when half the songs fizzle out before they land, and Thomas' lyrics lazily fall back on a four-letter expletive whenever they want to rhyme with "git", "flit" or "hit".

And Goold's production, while not in the brilliant knock-out class of his own American Psycho for the Almeida or even his controversial Turandot for the ENO is fully energised, colourful and efficiently mobilised on a set by Bunny Christie that ingeniously quotes Airfix grey plastic model kits, Sixties pop art and hairstyles – one of the little agitators is a dead ringer for Barbara Windsor with the lungs of Lulu – and offers the glorious sight of Harold Wilson puffing on his pipe in a dodgem car at the Eastbourne TUC conference.

Mark Hadfield's cringing Huddersfield PM, glued to his Gannex mac, and extending his furrowed brow right through his body, is a delight, as is Sophie-Louise Dann's belting redhead Barbara Castle and Naomi Frederick's posh Lisa Hopkins (Rosamund Pike in the movie), whose stand against corporal punishment in the local school takes her into Rita's kitchen and conflict with her own plant manager husband.

There's a Miss Saigon moment, too, when Steve Furst – aka Lenny Beige – leads a rude and raucous reminder that Ford is an American dream package with big bucks, big ideas and big open spaces, mostly inside his own head.

Tight choreography is by Aletta Collins, musical direction by Tom Deering and there are eye-catching contributions, too, from Sophie Stanton as a Cockney cow with udders above her station and Adrian Der Gregorian as Rita's self-pitying but finally supportive husband.