This play by Denise Deegan, which had a successful three year West End run in the early 80's has now returned along with its original director, Glen Willoughby.
An upper class boarding school in the 1920's, annoyingly precocious girl students, hidden treasure and trap doors, silly plots full of extraordinary coincidences and an East End elementary schoolgirl who over-achieves at everything she does sets the plot for this simplistic play.
Daisy Meredith, the heroine of this story, wins the first ever scholarship place at the exclusive Grangewood School for girls. Though a new girl, she can speak French like a native, play the piano like a concert pianist, and proves to be a champion hockey player. Even more amazing for a girl brought up in the East End of London she also knows the art of rock cliff climbing and rescue.
Of course not all the jolly girls at Grangewood are pleased to have a commoner in there midst. Surely a working-class girl will ruin the reputation of the school because they truly cannot be expected to live up to the high morals associated with girls of good breeding. To prove this point the horrid Sybil does all in her power to show that common girls do not belong at Grangewood.
Can Daisy maintain her good character and prove she is not a sneak, a liar, a cheat and a thief? Will she find the hidden treasure and save the Beaumont family from disaster? Can such a resourceful all-round 'topper' emerge from such low working-class stock, or is there more to Daisy's angelic features then even she realises?
One wonders what children of modern day comprehensive schools will make of this tale of plucky jovial heroines who preach to each other the virtues of honesty, fairness, academic achievement and sportsmanship.
Hannah Yelland excels in the role of Daisy, who along with her best chum Trixie, played by Katherine Heath, overcome all obstacles and prove to be champion girls. They abound with energy and clean sweet face innocence. Jane Mark is wonderful as the horrid spoilt toff Sybil, Daisy's number one enemy.
The revolving set design recreates an old Elizabethan style mansion and also gives a romantic setting to the chivalric fantasies of the schoolgirls who occupy it.
A play that one will either love or hate, I am sure many will exclaim "Jemima!" at such innocent joyous antics, however I do not think I will be the only rotten sneak who would have preferred to have played truant.
What other critics had to say.....
DARREN DALGLISH says, "An overlong mediocre spoof that I found tedious. " PATRICK MARMION for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "David Gilmore's production boasts some irrepressible comic performances." LYN GARNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "It is light, bright night out for anyone over 10.." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Golly gosh, what a spiffing wheeze!" CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "David Gilmore's production makes the wise decision to play it almost straight."
External links to full reviews from newspapers