Education, Education, Education

Wardrobe Ensemble

Wardrobe Ensemble

Pleasance Dome

From 03 August 2017 to 28 August 2017

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

At times, this lively show about school life can seem like an extended episode of Grange Hill, albeit more politically charged. It is set on 2 May 1997, as the teachers of Wordsworth School hopefully celebrate the election of Tony Blair and his plans for "Education, Education, Education".

For around 80 minutes, dramas flow at soap opera rates, intended to convey the major issues facing comprehensive schools twenty years ago and relating them to the situation today, when funding is even tighter and so many despairing teachers hate their jobs.

The melodramas include super-nice and equally nasty teachers as well as several who behave worse than the kids. The head cannot cope as turmoil develops and his deputy snipes. More encouragingly, James Newton’s Tobias, a German exchange assistant with a heart and more commonsense than the rest put together, pours oil on troubled waters as accidents, threatened suicide and expulsions enliven a momentous day.

The children are also a cross section, with Emily Greenslade playing Sophie Smith´╗┐, one of those bright troublemakers who are compulsory in any school drama from Tom Brown through Wodehouse to Wardrobe.

The politics of education are also viewed to a reasonable degree in a play that is great fun, albeit overly sentimental.´╗┐