Kentish Town actress pens comedy satirising parents’ dirty tricks to get kids into schools
PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 September 2016
BRIDGET GALTON talks to an actress and writer mining the comic potential of pushy parents and the uneven race for school places
The dirty tricks that parents play to get their children into a top primary school are satirised in a low budget comedy by Kentish Town actress Sophie Trott.
Trott, her daughter Minnie and partner, jazz pianist Dorian Ford all star in The Littlest Boho which premieres at Raindance Film Festival next month.
Shot “on a tiny budget” around Camden and Kentish Town, the five-episode web series includes a scene where a desperate mum pretends to have split with her partner and joined a “same-sex triumvirate” to curry favour with a school official during an excrutiating home visit.
The heightened comedy also pokes fun at the “miscommunication between friends when some start having children while others don’t.”
Sophie and co-writer Cara Jennings started collaborating after meeting at an improvisation workshop.
“At the time I started writing, every mum I knew was going completely nuts about school admissions,” says Trott.
“Where I live the primary schools are oversubscribed and there was hyper anxiety about getting into the ‘right one’. I have visited lots of schools teaching drama I honestly didn’t come across any that I thought were horrible, but at single form entry schools like Eleanor Palmer wealthy parents are renting an empty flat above the shop across the road to get their kids in.”
The series follows friends Ruby (Trott) and Sinead (Jennings) as they hopelessly try to get Ruby’s daughter into the local primary.
Harnessing the surreal, there’s a recurring cameo of Karl Marx, a lactivist yoga teacher, a ruthless banker’s wife and a smug Ofsted-garlanded headteacher.
Trott adds: “It’s easy to get swept up in that anxiety and the extreme lengths people will go to has great comedy value but we are also making a political point about how these dirty tricks take places away from people who really can’t make that sacrifice.
“Personally I think it’s a hideous thing to do but the comedy isn’t too didactic – one guy we showed it to said ‘I did that’ and yet he still liked the series!”
Ruby and Sinead also spar over their differing lifestyles.
“It’s that time in your life when some people have kids and some don’t and that disconnect of not understanding each other and living very different lifestyles.
“One is trying to infiltrate the mummy circle while her friend’s still being incredibly rock and roll. They tend to diss each other’s lifestyle choice, like the one without kids saying ‘you used to be fun’. There’s lot’s of judginess.”
Director Sean Grundy liked the series because: “It has something to say and has its targets squarely in it’s cross-hairs; the current malaise of modern life in the murky organic fairtrade only middle-class pond of pushy mums, banker husbands and offspring as accessories.”
Trott adds that as a “mates project” Grundy helped assemble a brilliant cast but working with family could be testing
“My daughter plays my daughter and my partner my partner – she was easy, she liked it and keeps asking ‘when am I going to do more filming? But with your partner, sometimes you want to snap ‘just learn your lines’”
As a calling card the series has already helped the duo land other writing work for the BBC and although her daughter is only six, the looming prospect of secondary school applications looks set to afford Trott plenty of fresh material.
“People are already planning ahead. I overheard one saying ‘ we thought we would go private but that’s not going to work because it will look better for Oxbridge if they have gone to a state school’ Awful on so many levels.”
The Littlest Boho premieres at Raindance on October 2 at 1pm at VUE Piccadilly and will then be available free on thelittlestboho.com releasing an episode each week for five weeks.