Lyric Theatre, London W1
Opened 29 April, 2002

** Not so jolly hockeysticks in this gels' public school yarn

Notions of camp have grown more sophisticated in the twenty-odd years since Denise Deegan's play was first seen in the West End.

It's interesting that this revival comes just as Philip Larkin's juvenile attempts at girls'-school fiction are posthumously published. Larkin's pseudonymous essay on the genre illustrates the weakness of Deegan's play: in short, it is pastiche rather than parody. As we watch elementary-school scholarship girl Daisy arrive at Grangewood and overcome snobbishness by winning the hockey championship, saving the life of the form rotter and discovering the hidden treasure, no absurdities are highlighted and no insights sneaked in. We are asked to revel in the conventions of the story, no less and no more. And it's no longer enough. Even those who nurse a secret kink for gymslips and woollen hose are unlikely to find themselves captivated by the goings-on.

The midweek evening performance I saw played to a pitifully, but I'm afraid deservedly, small audience. The only sizeable joke is both unintentional and grim: the growing popularity of private education in the past two decades make plain how naive and hollow are Daisy's closing hopes that schooling will become more egalitarian. Talk about historical irony...

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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