Education, Education, Education at Shoreditch Town Hall
A foray into the 1990s to the sounds of the Spice Girls and Oasis, The Wardrobe Ensemble’s Education, Education, Education – inspired by Tony Blair’s famous inauguration speech – brilliantly toys with specific pieces of British culture, restyling them via quirky, ingenious vignettes.
In 1997 New Labour Blairite Britain, right after the election, a pledge has been made by the prime minister to supply the education system with funding. In response, the fictional school Wordsworth Comprehensive examines and pokes fun at the empty promises of successive governments and the neglect of an institution in which students are the victims. In the spirit of Pink Floyd’s indictment of the UK’s indoctrination of children in The Wall, this piece presents a grim view of the Britannic educational establishment, but does so with tremendous affection and wit.
Both outrageously funny and poignant, the play is superbly written dramaturgy comprised of priceless comedy skits. With a hint of Saturday Night Live – but crafted with a sublime, uniquely English creative wackiness – various classic characters are perceptively and hilariously portrayed and caricatured: a rather bumbling headmaster, some well-meaning but struggling or disciplinarian teachers and a few rebellious or petulant pupils – among others – are all acted out with astute nuttiness. Characterisations are effectively precise and cleverly played – the performances are outstanding.
That much of the action is conveyed in the form of terrific dance numbers adds an entertaining, exuberant and smartly farcical punch to the work – a kind of Blues Brothers meets Monty Python.
The innovative stage effects used in the production are remarkable, such as a sequence of visits to the school’s departments accompanied by a descriptive song for each and artfully moving doors. The excellent narrative and attention to detail highlight The Wardrobe Ensemble as an example of inspirational British creative theatre. A lively, highly enjoyable, interesting and thought-provoking show, Education, Education, Education is intriguing, captivating and well worth a viewing.
Photo: Graeme Braidwood
Education, Education, Education is at Shoreditch Town Hall from 17th April until 21st April 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.