Paul M Ford
Technical Crew Details:
Reviewed by Theo Spring for The Croydon Advertiser
The short gymslips and laddered stockings are familiar but the tale is new – written by Richard Lloyd who also directed the show it deals with kidnapping, undercover police work, the Ministry of Education and general skullduggery.
Under the seemingly benign laissez-faire headmistress, played in the best Alistair Sim mould by Mike Brown, the girls run riot. When the fourth form are caught hauling a trussed up victim, she gives the reminder “remember, no permanent marks”.
In the staff room, things are no better than they should be – Matron (engagingly played by Sheila Bird) is permanently drunk, Miss Leyton, the English teacher’s English leaves much to be desired with Penny Payne sustaining a coarse cockney accent, Miss Butcher (Rosie Martin) teaches sport, Art Mistress Miss Potts (Lisa Lloyd) smokes pot and Tania Gauci is the immigrant who may be able to teach French.
There are men in suits from Whitehall, although Algy Cartmore-Dung certainly loosens up eventually – Luke Argles metamorphosing nicely, whilst Bruce Montgomery’s Mr Brownose is staid throughout. The accents are different but the upper and lower class wide boys are both intent on duplicity with Paul Ford as Terence Mitten and Peter Bird as the cheeky Charlie Chance.
The plotting of dark deeds is led by head girl Celeste (Kimberley Argles) with Alex Inglis as Arabella thwarting plans as a double agent fourth former. Lucy-Ann Martin is Lavinia, the girl in the firing line and here is more duplicity at work.
All the girls, whether fourth or sixth formers, enter into life at St Mildreds with zest and their good voices offer new words set to many well known tunes – I particularly enjoyed the Three Little Maids From School.
More complications ensue when the police infiltrate the staff room – Fiona Harrison is the intrepid Sergeant Bunty who is mown down on the hockey field.
The panelled walls of the school building created an effective set and the frequent scene changes were well accomplished by an efficient backstage crew. Pianist Jonathan North tinkled the ivories for the songs assisted by Jeannie Lewis on percussion.
The large cast of twenty six share the satisfaction of a mystery comedy well delivered.