The state of inner city schools may be driving teachers and parents to
distraction, but it’s providing fertile ground for dramatists and
thought-provoking entertainment for theatregoers who are no doubt extremely
grateful that they don’t have to face a classroom of disruptive adolescents
on a daily basis.

Following hot on the heels of the “Schools Season” at the Bush, Vivienne
Franzmann’s accomplished, hard-hitting new play (her first) looks at the
politics of the playground – and of the headmaster’s study – when known
troublemaker Jason, already facing permanent exclusion, falsely accuses
popular white teacher Amanda (Julia Ford) not only of pushing him but also
of racial abuse when she intervenes to break up a fight.

Sweet-talking the girls and reminding the boys of loyalty owed, disaffected
Jason (a simmering, menacing Malachi Kirby) coerces his reluctant gang into
corroborating his lies. He’s fully aware that his future hangs in the
balance, he won’t back down and the situation escalates with devastating

With twelve years’ teaching experience behind her, Franzmann (a deserving
joint winner of the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition) knows what she’s
talking about and, apart from a couple of instances which don’t completely
ring true, convincingly captures both the dilemma faced by Ian Bartholomew’s
weak head (caught up in the bureaucracy of Child Protection legislation) and
the consequences of the allegations on Amanda and her family.

The teenagers’ banter is constantly on the verge of erupting into something
more threatening and Matthew Dunster’s sharp, well-acted production
appropriately encircles the pupils in wire fencing, their schoolyard a mini
urban warzone where the toughest survive and bullying – not exam results –


Lyric Hammersmith, King Street, W6 0QL
0871 221 1726

Tube: Hammersmith
Until April 2
£10 – £25

– Louise Kingsley