REVIEW: Education Education Education, Pulse Festival, New Wolsey Theatre ✭✭✭✭✭

Paul T Davies reviews Wardrobe Ensemble’s Education Education Education presented as part of the Pulse Festival at the New Wolsey Theatre.

Education education education review Pulse Festival

The cast of Wardrobe Ensemble’s Education Education Education. Photo: Graeme Braidwood

Education Education Education.
Pulse Festival, New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich.
8 June 2018
5 Stars
Pulse Festival Info

There’s being late to the party, and then there’s catching the final performance of Wardrobe Ensemble’s tour of their epic play set in 1997. It’s May 1997, Tony Blair has won the election, and Katrina and the Waves have won Eurovision. At Wordsworth Comprehensive School its muck up day before the pupils go on study leave and Tobias, the new German placement teacher has arrived, and a special assembly is being organised by Sue, and turkey twizzlers have just been introduced to the menu. It’s Cool Britannia and New Labour is about to put billions into education. It now looks like a golden time, and the company celebrate and commemorate it in equal measure.

One of the key features of Wardrobe Ensemble’s work is, of course, the ensemble nature, but it is their use of movement and music that really singles them out above many other companies around at the moment. Written and devised by the company, it does what you want every piece of theatre to do; it makes you laugh out loud and listen in poignancy in equal measure, and provides a real talking point for those of us who remember 1997 vividly. Jesse Meadows is wonderful as caring, disorganised Sue, always on the side of the pupils, Ben Vardy providing PE style masculinity as Tim Pashley, Greg Shewring a terrific; slightly weasel Paul, Kerry Lovell a strong, unforgiving Robocop of a teacher and Emily Greenlade a terrific…. Emily Greenslade. Tom England portrays perfectly the stress and optimism of head Hugh, and James Newton is hilarious as deadpan Tobias, a superb narrator of the day’s events.

The show powers along at the highest adrenalin beat, the Titanic sex scene unforgettable, and moments of deeply moving connections between staff and Emily. We all know, twenty years later, what went wrong, leading us to look back with affection at this period in time.  I can only recommend that if and WHEN the show is revived, you must see it. Having also seen their 1972: The Future of Sex, I recommend you get to know Wardrobe Ensemble. They’re the future of theatre.

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