Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Parham’

This is an impressive playwriting debut by Alex Mackeith. I don’t know much about education, but it oozed authenticity and seemed to me to present a well researched understanding of some of the issues facing a primary school Head. 

The school in question is trying hard to improve, with an immediate target of a pupil premium award which would open extra-curricular doors that these South London working class kids could never otherwise open. The governors have forced the Head to take an unqualified but bright agency temp to help get the SATS up, but he’s preoccupied with what he enjoys. The Head’s administrator is her retired predecessor’s daughter who’s desperate to qualify as a teacher but has been set back by having to look after her dad. 

The picture it paints is the Head’s struggle to reconcile the need to teach an imposed curriculum, having to follow instructions from the governors that she doesn’t necessarily agree with. the obsession with testing over learning and the expectations of parents (illustrated by a father who expects the school to shoulder all of the responsibility for his sick daughter whilst he shoulders none), all in a world where social media means nothing is secret, not even the her personal problems, going through a divorce. It took a while to take off, but when it did it was riveting.

Anna Reid’s uber-realistic, finely detailed design contributes greatly to the authenticity. There’s a terrific performance from Ann Ogbomo as Head Jo, who has to switch from distress to full emotional control in an instant. Fala Evan-Akingbola conveys her character Lara’s vocational passion and conscientiousness really well and Oliver Dench does well as posh boy Tom who’s rather let them down. Though it’s a small part, Kevin Howarth’s performance as dad David was pivotal in underlining one of the issues. It’s really well staged by Charlie Parham.

Fine new writing at Southwark Playhouse.

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