Review: Education, Education, Education

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It’s 1997. Tony Blair has claimed a landslide victory and Britain are victorious in Eurovision. Cool Britannia is the phrase on everyone’s lips. Partnering with 93% Club, Castle Theatre Company’s production of Education, Education, Education is an honest, emotive performance that immediately situates itself within the average secondary school, faltering under years of a conservative government. Framed by 90s hits and the album artwork of Radiohead, The Cranberries and My Bloody Valentine, the audience is instantly immersed in the show’s moment. Blending comedy with the intricacies of troubled teachers and teens, the show continuously engages the audience’s emotions as the complexities of teacher and student life are exposed.

What stands out about Education is the chemistry between the ensemble of actors – their ability to humour the audience whilst creating a believable school day is outstanding, and credit must be given to and in her directorial debut for cultivating this phenomenal cast. Every actor is able to create a compelling sense of character, complimenting each other’s energy to present a relatable school environment in both staff and student.

Blending comedy with the intricacies of troubled teachers and teens, the show continuously engages the audience’s emotions as the complexities of teacher and student life are exposed

Main character Tobias, played by is at once a loveable, endearing narrator experiencing the awkwardness of his first day as a teaching assistant, managing to largely maintain a German accent for the show’s duration whilst unfalteringly curating his character as he timidly breaks into a robot upon the first dance break. ’s portrayal of the determined if slightly misguided figure of Emily is exceptionally performed. Her emotion is palpable as she endears the audience to her protests against the stern pessimism of Richard Griffiths’ Paul.

Tobias and Emily’s interactions provide some of the show’s most moving moments. Discussion of potential and writing one’s future as they stand together on the roof of their failing establishment emphasizing the continuous theme of budding hopefulness whilst providing one of the more comedic lines in ‘you’re 15 and I like men’. ’s role as the optimistic lead teacher Hugh is a convincing pastiche of the average head teacher, holding out hope in the face of underfunding as he echoes Blair’s focus on ‘education, education, education’, whilst ’s Sue and ’s Louise are well contrasted in both performance and dress, capturing the tension between a pessimistic education sector and the desire for innovation.

Every actor is able to create a compelling sense of character, complimenting each other’s energy to present a relatable school environment in both staff and student

The minimalistic set, comprised of a door on wheels to distinguish differing classes and corridors, emphasises this cast’s talent. The movement between scenes is well executed with minimal issues, whilst the space of The Assembly Rooms Theatre is used imaginatively as Sue directs a performance in her English class, whispering lines from beside the stage. Compliments must be given to the use of lighting which is especially effective in creating separate moods and spaces, the red lighting as Louise and Paul come together on election night, creating a humorous, overzealous moment of passion against the uninspired staff room. It must be noted that in some moments the lighting fails to effectively show characters’ emotions as slightly off-centre to their stage positions, and at times the interspersed dance moments lack unity, however, these instances were rare and both the energy and arrangement of this cast must be applauded.

Ultimately, Education, Education, Education is a joyous, emotional performance that leaves you wanting to download a 90s playlist and dream that ‘things can only get better’. In collaboration with 93% club, both cast and crew have created a truly special production, achieving widened opportunity and showcasing talent on and off-stage. I would recommend securing tickets for the show’s final performance (Saturday 11th,) as this production should not be missed!

Image credit: Castle Theatre Company

5 thoughts on “Review: Education, Education, Education

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