Ofsted inspections are generally not much fun. Staff room chatter tends to be rather dull and school kids’ gossip is rarely entertaining. An Ofsted inspection poses a challenge as the substance of a play and this young people’s theatre company has its hands full trying to make a gripping tale out it.
The text provides obvious cues for songs that fit perfectly into the storyline.
The saving grace of this production is the music, which is quite good. The text provides obvious cues for songs that fit perfectly into the storyline. These are not just add-ons, but much-needed boosts for some flagging scenes. The compositions are mostly lively numbers hammered out on the piano and the tunes are so catchy and easy to pick-up the audience could easily join in the refrains. The lyrics are often witty and amusing with added comic effect coming from the use of rhyming couplets. In the musical numbers, the cast is relaxed and confident, so it’s a pity the first number wasn’t used as an opener. Instead, there’s a rather flat monologue on a series of school mishaps with the cast in freeze frame in the background. It’s an uninspiring start to a show.
What follows is well structured, but the dialogue is often weak and the cast seemed far less comfortable acting than singing. Many of the characters are predictable and verge on stereotypes. The school girls in particular seemed to owe a certain indebtedness to Catherine Tate’s classroom sketches. Clever writing does shine through in the scene involving the science, drama and food technology teachers, which is delivered with appropriate pace. Overall, however, many of the attempts at comic lines are just not that funny.
“Filled with misunderstandings, quests for new hair and smoking in the playground. Can they keep it together for long enough?” That’s the question posed in the programme notes and the answer has to be ‘no’. Inspection report assessment: grade 3 (requires improvement).