Review - Daisy Pulls It Off at the Charing Cross Theatre
Fresh from Guildford School of Acting’s BA Actor-Musician programme, the cast of Daisy Pulls It Off came bounding onto the West End stage with enviable energy and impressive musical ability that could put certain seasoned thespians to shame – naming no names, of course… Bringing to life with confidence Denise Deegan’s delightful parody of English boarding school novels, such as Angela Brazil’s ‘A Popular Schoolgirl’ and Enid Blyton’s ‘Malory Towers’ series, the cast lit up the Charing Cross Theatre with ease.
That said, heads in hands and disgruntled sighs were many at the performance I attended. Daisy Pulls It Off isn’t made for a 21st-century audience. Those who saw the Olivier Award-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber production when it ran at the Gielgud Theatre from 1983 until 1986, would have had a better understanding of the lively stereotypes within the show. I fear that in 2018, many are unaware of the novels from which the play derives and can’t appreciate the show for what it is – a brilliantly-timed spoof.
Marina Papadopoulos leads the cast as the charming Daisy Meredith, the first elementary schoolgirl to win a scholarship to Grangewood School for Young Ladies. Accompanied by madcap Trixie Martin (Katy Ellis), the two struggle against ‘unspeakable snobs’ Sybil Burlington (Persia Babayan-Taylor) and Monica Smithers (Gemma Evans) who do everything in their power to have Daisy expelled. Add a treasure hunt, a daring rescue mission and a ridiculous shock ending involving a mysterious gardener into the mix and you’ve got a jam-packed few hours without a dull moment in sight.
The cast were phenomenal, especially Papadopoulos, who can really sing, and Ellis, who has been perfectly cast as the hilarious Trixie. Phyllida Crowley Smith’s musical staging is superb and propels the plot forward with the inventive use of string instruments which, at one point, even double as hockey sticks. Faced with introducing numerous characters to the audience in quick succession, director Nicholas Scrivens’ decision to have the girls break the fourth wall whilst the rest of the cast remain in a tableau was a refreshing and pacy solution to something that could have been extremely trying.
Don’t go to see Daisy Pulls It Off in search of a deeper meaning – you won’t find one. And, that’s probably the best thing about it. It’s silly, and it’s meant to be. Once you get past that and ease into the giddy humour of the piece, the show guarantees a truly enjoyable evening out – some might even call it ‘spiffing’.
Daisy Pulls It Off tickets are available now.