DENISE Deegan’s 1983 play, a parody on life in a girl’s private school steeped in the Angela Brazil tradition, is a lasting joy, and one that provides the average amateur dramatic society with a first class script and many many parts for women.
Motcombe Community Players have chosen Daisy for the autumn production, and I hope they will forgive my confusion in that I’m not really sure if they are the same company that performed Boeing Boeing in the same village hall earlier this year, or just share some of the members.
Either way, it’s a delight that when you go to see a play at Motcombe, the action reaches out from the stage into the auditorium. In the first the audience was welcomed by air stewards, and in this by the staff and senior girls of Grangewood School, always in character, both before the curtain and during the interval.
Rosie King’s production has a keen eye for detail, and this looked SO like my own school that it was both funny and slightly disconcerting (particularly as my Marydale and their Grangewood share a school song.)
It’s all about derring do and jolly hockey sticks and teenage crushes and class distinction. Deegan’s play, which opened at the Nuffield in Southampton before its long London run, lays the political arguments about privilege and arrogance and merit on with a trowel, and a very funny trowel at that.
As the audience is swept into the new term at Grangewood, undercurrents are evident. The wealthy Sybil Burlington is determined to undermine Daisy Meredith, Grangewood’s first scholarship girl.
There are memorable performances here. Brenda White relishes every moment as Sybil, and Wendy Ibbotson is her toadying sidekick.
Tess Hebditch uses both her singing and speaking voice to great effect as the Headmistress and Jennifer Trenchard is the charismatic Clare Beaumont.
At the centre of all the japes are Daisy, beautifully portrayed by Joni Clowrey, all gleaming eyes and fervent spirit, and her chum Trixie Martin (Cherry Alderman).
Jay Roberts-Davies did an excellent accent as Mr Scoblowski, and Mark Blackham made the most of his cameo role.
It’s all huge fun, and if some of the speeches sound frighteningly like the Gospel According to Nigel “Mr Toad” Farage, here we KNOW it was supposed to be nearly a century ago.
See it at Motcombe on Friday 25th or Saturday 26th October or at Shaftesbury Arts Centre on Sunday 2nd November.