Sitting in the audience waiting for Education, Education, Education to start, we were transported back to the 90’s in style. The soundtrack played before the show and throughout the performance included ALL my favourite tracks from that time in my life and I was not alone. As I looked around I could see people itching to dance, eyes wide, sharing memories of those years. As we left the auditorium the words ‘I want that playlist’ were uttered multiple times – a genius way to time travel with the audience and launch us into the 90’s.
Education, Education, Education has all the hallmarks of this company – physical theatre, ensemble pieces, perfect timing – set to a political backdrop with lashings of humour and sensitivity. We are treated to an insider’s view of Wordsworth Comprehensive School, which could be any secondary comprehensive in the UK. James Newton who plays Tobias, a German language teacher, takes the audience on an observational journey behind the scenes of the school. Superb characterisation from all performers, switching from students to teachers throughout the show. When Tom England leaps through doors sharing his romantic and passionate views of the school with James, a hilarious juxtaposition of perceptions unfolds.
My theatre companion was my daughter, who is 13, and she laughed out loud relating to her own secondary experience. Chants of ‘fight, fight, fight’ in the playground and the staff room! Stereotypical teachers who will stand no ‘messing around’, the teacher who is soft and gets walked over, the student who is misunderstood. All these stories are universal and yet ‘The Wardrobe Ensemble’ create a unique backdrop for them to resonate with all ages. Ending on the track ‘Things can Only Get Better’ is a call out to us all in our current times and a reminder that we live in a society of continuous change.
Having seen 1972: The Future of Sex by the Wardrobe Ensemble, I knew that Education, Education, Education would be a must see. This is a company to watch, follow, stalk, see their shows.
Education, Education, Education runs at Bristol Old Vic until 4th November
Image by Graeme Braidwood, with thanks