What larks they have had at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form this week.
All jolly hockey sticks, schoolgirl pranks, midnight feasts and antics in the dorm. And oh what fun it is. Like the girls of St Trinian’s taking over the Campus, when sixth-form pupils have transformed themselves into public schoolgirls to tell the endearing story of “Daisy Pulls It Off”.
And what a great choice for the drama department and director Dave Warren, for Denise Deegan’s novel is lively, exuberant and funny while telling a meaningful moral tale,
I was among the opening night audience on Wednesday and everyone went home smiling after this production. What a heartwarming evening it was, just the thing to get people into the mood for the Easter holidays.
The Thomas Whitham drama department really like to mix it up. In recent years we have had a varied assortment of productions from the sixth form students, but I haven’t seen them enjoy performing one as much as this. Their enthusiasm was infectious and the audience loved it from the minute they bounced into the auditorium at the Sixth Form Campus on Barden Lane in their gymslips and proceeded to bring us a parody of life in a public school.
When Daisy Meredith arrives, the first girl ever to win a scholarship to Grangewood School on intelligence merit rather than the family bank balance, the merriment begins.
Charlie Hall played the likeable Daisy who soon makes a best friend of jolly girl Trixie Martin, played by Lisa-Marie Ashworth, who immediately became an audience favourite. But snobby girls Sybil Burlington and Monica Smithers, played by Megan Lambert and Alex Pemberton (the only male playing one of the schoolgirl roles – and what an outrageously comical job he did of it) soon decide to make Daisy’s life hell.
Then we meet the head girl Claire and upper school friend Alice (Emma Hitchon and Alice Butterfield) who Daisy and her friends in the fourth form “adore”. Every one of these principal characters had fabulous mannerisms, hilarious facial expressions, and danced, dashed and pranced around wonderfully - no sedate schoolgirls here. The other pupils are played by Natalie Fenn, Lauren Stewart, Marie Shah, Georgia Donnelly, Abbi Senior and Kerry Smith while the adults are Abbi Senior as Daisy’s mother, Charlotte Bevis as headmistress Miss Gibson, Rachel Bolt, teacher Miss Granville, Kerry Smith Mademoiselle, Martyna Puciato as Mr Scoblowski, Max Preston Mr Thompson and Sufyan Abid, Mr Patel.
And, just like the schoolgirl roles, they really ham it up and are so over the top it is parody at its best.
Denise Deegan’s story is great fun as Daisy is forced to overcome snobbish prejudice and nasty pranks from some of the snobbier girls. Along the way she and her pal Trixie get into all sorts of scrapes, and they tell their story, partly as a narrative with asides to the audience, and partly in real time. So it is always fast and fun with some great scenes, such as when they recreate a hockey match, and a daring cliff rescue. Finally they win the day, save the school, Daisy solves a family mystery and the snobby girls come to realise that moral fibre, not money, is what is important as Daisy becomes the heroine of Grangewood School.
Only two of the cast have appeared in a Thomas Whitham production before but every single one excelled and were top of the form.