Review - Education Education Education at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

The Wardrobe Ensemble are back on Northamptonshire soil giving another frenetic, nostalgia driven performance in their politically charged production Education Education Education.

Education Education Education
Education Education Education

Set in a secondary comprehensive school the morning after the Labour landslide election in 1997 the original script celebrates Cool Britannia and a country filled to the brim with optimism.

The highly choreographed show is a whirlwind of rapid fire scenes which spit out irreverently funny insights amidst a backdrop of late 90s music.

Miss Turner patrols the school halls as RoboCop incarnate whilst Miss Belltop-Doyle's "hippy shit" approach welcomes chaos in the classroom.

Watching the mayhem unfold is German language assistant Tobias, who acts as the narrator and objective observer, who breaks the fourth wall with mixed success.

First and foremost this is a love letter to the nineties and anyone born before 1960 or after 1990 is unlikely to pick up on the wealth of pop culture references from Acorn computers to Tamagotchi virtual pets, meaning the audience will always be a rather niche one.

However for those of us who were teenagers as we approached the millennium the show is a bittersweet embrace of reminiscence, as it transports us back to a time of hope and celebration.

In a country that now seems so divided it is a welcome reminder that Britain was once united and admired on the world stage for its politics, music and belief that Things Can Only Get Better.

The Bristol based group of theatre artists, working once again with Royal & Derngate, following their successful adaptation of Wind in the Willows, are back on energetic form.

This time The Wardrobe Ensemble are working with their own original script, but once again the scenery and costumes are pared back, allowing the creative cast to fill the stage with anarchy and imagination.

Through their collaborative production process they have constructed a thinking comedy where the audience is exposed to many varying viewpoints and given no easy solution.

Should defiant pupil Emily Greenslade be motivated, disciplined or nurtured? And what aspirations should we be teaching our youth? These are just some of the themes explored with an equal measure of wit and poignancy.

A few accent slips and a wobbly opening scene aside, this is a highly entertaining and insubordinate trip down memory lane.

Education Education Education runs at Royal & Derngate until June 2. Box Office 01604 624811