An Ofsted Inspector Calls is set in the Sir Christopher Woodhead Memorial Secondary school just prior to, and during, the visit of three inspectors from Ofsted. The school is perhaps not the most efficient – its fireworks displays usually end up with the accidental burning of its neighbour’s fence and outbuildings, the police and fire brigade are on almost permanent call and a school trip to France has resulted in the disappearance of the French mistress and the entire group of children. The staff members are portrayed as weak, incompetent or scheming and the deputy head is incredibly pompous but the Headmistress notices none of this, nor the failings of the school. She carries on imperiously and serenely, reminiscent of a combination of Joyce Grenfell and Margaret Rutherford. The inspectors are dressed as, and behave like, 1930’s gangsters.The whole production is great fun with laughs from beginning to end. I particularly enjoyed the elaborate excuses of one small boy to whom things seem to happen constantly and for which he gets unfairly blamed – ‘the fire extinguisher had fallen off the wall and I was just putting it back when…’.The storyline is almost incidental. Although it seems certain that the school will fail its inspection and the Headmistress will lose her job, the audience always knows that something will come along to save the day.For farce to work well, it really needs to be played seriously, as this is. The young cast members all put in excellent and entusiastic performances and the show will appeal to almost everyone, except perhaps Ofsted inspectors.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

History Boys

★★★★

Dracula

★★

Cherry Orchard

★★★★

Azincourt

★★★★

Secret Garden

★★★★

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The Blurb

The Sir Christopher Woodhead Memorial Secondary Modern Arts Status School is back! 2005's sell-out returns, fully updated in line with current government legislation. Sunday Telegraph Critics' Choice (2005). 'This group absolutely sparkles' **** (BroadwayBaby.com, 2006)

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