Education, Education, Education at Trafalgar Studios

PUBLISHED: 10:39 07 June 2019

Education, Education, Education at Trafalgar Studios

Education, Education, Education at Trafalgar Studios

Archant

This wonderfully energetic and perceptive spectacle, appropriates Tony Blair's infamous 1997 mantra to explore the impact of academies and league tables on the teaching profession

The Wardrobe Ensemble's Education Education EducationThe Wardrobe Ensemble's Education Education Education

In this wonderfully energetic and perceptive work, the seven members of Wardrobe Ensemble have appropriated Tony Blair's infamous 1997 mantra for their title.

The scene is Wordsworth Comprehensive the day after Labour's 1997 election triumph but it's also end of term and Muck Up Friday.

Teachers are apprehensive and, as the play progresses, high-jinx give way to urban disorder.

The overall mood is optimistic: years of Thatcher's underinvestment has left teachers angry, demoralised and rudderless. There is the feel of a New Dawn with the promise of oodles of dosh and a systematic approach to management.

Some excellent characters are drawn. The hapless, troubled but endearing student Emily Greenslade (played by the talented and entirely convincing ... Emily Greenslade) evokes sympathy.

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James Newton's hilariously observed German exchange teacher Tobias offers an outsider's dead-pan commentary on the state of England and education.

He, and the rest of Europe, envy the optimism of Cool Britannia, but he foresees the bleak world of academies, austerity and the emergence of food banks.

There is the devoted and relentlessly optimistic old hippy Miss Belltop-Doyle (a frighteningly on-the-edge performance from Jesse Meadows) who can't cope with the industrialisation of education.

The conflict between providing a caring, nurturing environment versus continual assessment and league tables is brutally explored in the clash between the beardy, tweedy Headteacher and the sharp-suited, results-driven Head of Discipline.

For years, the arts have explored the schools system. Educationx3 continues the noble tradition from Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Browning Version, Wacko, Spare the Rod, King St Junior and Grange Hill.

As well as an examination of big political ideas, this lively spectacle is also enjoyable at the level of nostalgia (Tamagotchis, turkey twizzlers and shag bands), thanks to its excellent 90s soundtrack.

An intensely funny, superbly performed night out.

4/5

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