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Daisy Pulls It Off (Newbury)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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How spiffing! All round good egg Daisy Meredith’s thrilling adventures are back onstage! This year’s school play at Grangewood School for Young Ladies follows her fabled adventures chronicled by Denise Deegan. How she arrives as a newbug, the very first scholarship girl from an ordinary elementary school and overcomes humungous odds to become the most popular girl in the school – not to mention saving its financial fortunes.

And guess what! The girls are actually performing in a real theatre! There’s a super set from Chloe Langford – she must be in the arts sixth because with the swish of a couple of panels and a bit of scene shifting by the girls it looks just like the jolly old school classrooms, hall, dorms – and even the cliff top where Daisy bravely rescues snooty sneaks Sybil and Monica. Everyone’s favourite bit of scenery is provided by the sporting pupil who pops a lampshade over her head to light the head’s study.

Thanks to clever teacher Mr Philip Gladwell, a dab hand with lights, the stage is even set for a jolly hockey match as adorable Clare the headgirl everyone has a crush on and top sports captain Alice recruit our Daisy to the team, rescuing her from languishing in undeserved disgrace.

There’s some glorious hymn singing lots of the grown ups watching recognised – you could hear them saying it took them back to their schooldays. So thanks to music teacher Paul Herbert and his star pupil Rosalind Steele in cracking form at the piano when she’s not playing form captain Belinda or pupil Winnie.

Grangewood’s smashing drama mistress Caroline Leslie rallies a crack team of the most popular girls in the fourth to play those girls from bygone days. Everyone was rooting for Emerald O’Hanrahan’s perfectly plucky Daisy and glorious Rosie Jones as her madcap best friend Trixie who stands by her through thick and thin, even when she’s accused of cheating. And who wouldn’t cheer on jolly Holly Goss as the adorable Clare and Claire Brown’s bold, bloodied and bruised Alice? Amy Downham and Jaimi Barbakoff are good sports to play snobby Sybil and toadying Monica with such gusto. 

There's a bit of help from the staff too playing teachers and other grown ups. Miss Elizabeth Marsh is topping as Daisy’s mum, a strict form teacher and our firm but fair headmistress. And Mr Robert Maskell sportingly portrays all the chaps – and does it jolly well.

This is a topping production, a great reminder of all those jolly japes in girls’ school stories by Enid Blyton and Angela Brazil written back in the first half of the twentieth century. It must win the school drama competition!  

- Judi Herman


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