Written in 1982, Denise Deegan’s 1920s private school parody remains a popular choice for revival, though her affectionate send-up of ‘poshos’ fails to satisfy today’s voracious satirical spirit.
But – jubilate! – this reincarnation sees fringe director of the moment Thom Southerland just about pull it off with a slick and imaginative production of a dated play.
Scholarship girl Daisy Meredith (Holly Dale Spencer) strives to get into posh ‘gals’ school Grangewood. Being impossibly bright, she makes the grade only to be met by snobbery and suspicion from her privileged peers. Daisy must prove them all wrong… oh, and find some lost treasure to save the school.
Though chiming with our modern appetite for period pieces, Deegan’s play is, nonetheless, inescapably two dimensional. Supposedly written and performed by members of an actual fourth year, the play within a play format should excuse this lazy simplicity, but doesn’t.
Still, it’s not as though these cartoon characters aren’t enjoyable in Southerland’s jolly, song-enhanced production. While initially looking more shocked than jubilant, Dale Spencer – fresh from the Old Vic’s ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ – brings just enough edge to temper Daisy’s annoying perfection. She and Gillian McCafferty as the super supportive Trixie have a naturally chummy rhythm.
Amid a spirited cast, Adam Venus’s quivering Miss Granville provides rich comedic accompaniment. But it is Norma Atallah as snooty Monica Smithers who wins top prize with an array of conniving looks and witchy high-pitched giggles that are positively Machiavellian. Honour Bayes