‘A Must See Show’
Whether it stirs memories from your school days, highlights your concerns as a parent or re-awakens your more nightmarish days working in a school, there isn’t one person who won’t be able to identify with The Inspectors Call in some manner.
Peter Campling’s play looks at how the phrase ‘what’s best for kids’ is thrown around by the government and throughout the faculty and who really is looking out for the students and who is just looking to tick the boxes. The entire play circles around the head teacher, George Smith, who is struggling to bring a challenging school from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in its Ofsted report. Determined to always be ‘positive’, Mr Smith puts his heart and soul in providing the best life skills, a good education and a happy staff team.
The play is run by an extremely strong cast. The relationships among the various staff members are made very clear. It is an interesting angle to view a school; part of us will always believe that teachers live in the school and only live to teach. The cast expertly remind audiences that there is more to teaching than meets the eye and shows just how challenging and stressful the job can be.
The whole auditorium becomes the school as the cast turn the audience into a group of Year Nine children, or the faculty attending their staff briefing and even turning them into the scary Ofsted team prepping for their inspection.
It only seems appropriate that a show based in a secondary school is up-to-date with all the relevant pop culture. A summer play – where all the staff are re-imagined as Harry Pottercharacters, helps see the play through; fans can understand that ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ is clearly a villain in the team’s eyes or that ‘Dumbledore’ represents the much loved head teacher. If you are unfamiliar with the different roles in the education world, Harry Potter will definitely clear things up for you.
As well as the writer being an experienced teacher, it is obvious that a lot of careful research and thought has gone into this script. The government’s interventions are touched upon with radio snippets throughout the play and show how intrusive the government has become in education. It seems like a perfect time to put this play to audiences as with the election looming ever closer it provides the opportunity for the audience to consider how they want the education system to work. As the writer says, it is “vibrant, contemporary political theatre” and its entertainment and thought-provoking elements make it a must-see show.
Tal Fox – A Younger Theatre – 30th April 2015