This ‘jolly hockey sticks’ tale was performed by a fabulously talented cast during the cold autumnal month of November but those fortunate enough to see this comedic pastiche were left with a very warm glow from the outstanding performances of all of the cast. Set in the world of pre-war boarding education, ‘Daisy Pulls It Off’ is an affectionate homage to a by-gone time of spiffing adventures and ripping yarns with a St. Trinian's twist. The double directing team of Mrs Peacock and Mrs Willcox set about the text with real relish and a sense of fun. Both directors have already demonstrated a deft comic touch in previous shows and performances but this was setting the bar at a new high. The energy and enthusiasm was the overriding impression this reviewer was left with at the end, as well as a very large grin and a host of great practical moments that will last in the mind for quite some time.
As the eponymous Daisy, Alice Hawes fizzed and popped around the stage with a glee and enthusiasm that made her performance so charming and so very funny. Comedy is a difficult medium for young actors but Alice and the rest of the ‘Daisy’ crew made it appear effortless. The comedy pairing of Martha Parsons – all spoilt posturing and snide comments – with the ecstatic and occasionally elastic physicality of Maddie Robertson were wonderfully complimentary, each actor bringing the best out of the other. The charmingly earnest Trixie Martin was captured with great bravado by Bella Pullin and Maya Everritt was exemplary as the rather loud and gauche Clare Beaumont. The chorus of schoolgirls making up the rest of the student community were superbly performed by Kristel Longkilde, Genevieve Rose, Annabelle Snow and Maya Reed. They combined the physical attributes and skills of the best trained dancers with the comic awareness of professional clowns. The transitions between scenes were turned into opportunities to explore further the panto-like affection that this play clearly holds for its source material. The supposedly ‘adult’ characters – although in this comedy you do question the maturity of the majority of the characters – collided well with the enthusiastic energy of the schoolgirls creating one of the many tension points in the play. Lizzie Humbert as Miss Granville led from the front with a truly outrageous accent and wonderfully eccentric mannerisms. The marvellously over the top panache of Timur Bondarenko as the Lugosi-like Mr Scobolowski,Russian music teacher and possibly part time Bolshevik, was always a joy to behold. Archie Carr revelled in the part of Mr Thompson, caretaker and surprise plot twist. With excellent performances also offered from Florence Robertson, Cecilia Forsyth and Hattie Brown, this production was a fine ensemble success with each and every member of the cast making a very strong contribution to the overall success of this charming and very funny show.
A brilliant night was had by each and every one of us lucky enough to have revelled in this marvellously judged piece of theatre – and we even got a surprise cameo appearance from the Headmaster, Mr Murphy O’Connor! Oh what a jolly wheeze. Three Cheers for Daisy Pulls it Off. Hip hip…
Mr D Langley