The Theatreguide.London Review
Vaudeville Theatre Autumn 2019
Mischief Theatre, the folks
who brought you The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank
Robbery, now turn their attention to school days, with the same
high-calibre mix of great gags and so-bad-they're-good gags.
If it's not quite
uninterrupted hilarity, it does deliver the fabled laugh-a-minute, which
isn't bad for a 120 minute show.
We meet a handful of
schoolkids at age six and then again at thirteen and then, jumping ahead,
as thirty-somethings at a school reunion.
While there are loads of verbal and visual gags along the way, the central joke is that nobody really grows up, and they remain throughout their lives the same people they were as children.
There's the posh girl
demanding attention at six, running everyone's fledgeling love lives at
thirteen and still trying to shape reality around herself two decades
The amiable doofus remains as
dumb, clumsy and loveable throughout, the Designated Loser that the
six-year-olds select to tease and abuse is still trying to win their
friendship as an adult, and so on.
Each scene in the play has
its own comic focus. The little kids innocently and comically report on
observed but not understood adult behaviour, like just what Daddy is up to
with the cleaning lady when they spend all that time in the bedroom.
The teenagers try to sort out
romances that amount to little more than chaste snogging and friendships
that are likely to shift with the speed of their brief attention spans.
And the adults finally begin to face the reality of old lies and misdeeds
and current self-deceptions.
The jokes are good (or, as I
said, so-bad-they're-good), the characterisations, if a bit cartoonish,
are recognisable comic types, and a blanket of good will covers everything
in benign humour.
There's a good running gag
involving a succession of classroom hamsters, a sexual secret that you are
meant to guess even before the possessor does, and a couple of new
characters thrown into the reunion scene just because they're funny.
The three authors of the show
– Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields – also appear in it (as,
respectively, the goofus, the loser and the kid with the secret), along
with fellow Mischief Theatre veterans Nancy Zamit (the posh one) and
Charlie Russell (the tomboy), and final-scene-enhancers Dave Hearn and
Director Kirsty Patrick Ward
keeps things moving while skilfully guiding the cast through broad and
This isn't Hamlet. This isn't even The Importance Of Being Earnest. But this is fun.
Receive alerts every time we post a new review.