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Education, Education, Education review at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh – ‘slick, polished and highly entertaining’

The Wardrobe Ensemble's Education, Education, Education at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh. Photo: The Other Richard

The Wardrobe Ensemble excels at taking specific cultural moments and unpacking them. In Education Education Education the company flashes back to 1997 in the days after New Labour’s election win to explore the ways state education has changed over the intervening years.

This is time-capsule theatre. If you went to school in the 1990s, the show is gift-wrapped in a Cool Britannia bow. Though it’s crammed with Tamogotchis, Teletubbies references and jokes about Take That, it’s far more than just an exercise in nostalgia. The company gently subverts expectations in the way it deploys the iconic imagery and songs of the era.

The show presents us with a cross-section of characters from both sides of the staffroom door: the bright but volatile kid, the severe German teacher, the well-intentioned headmaster and the teacher who wants the best for her students but struggles to discipline them.

As in the company’s previous work, world-building is a real strength and the attention to detail is impressive. While it takes a while for the narrative to assert itself, it’s never less than engaging.

This is an incredibly polished piece of theatre. The ensemble work is typically tight, the dance routines slick, the comic timing precise and the production values high. And while it generates warmth in the way that familiar things do, there’s also a melancholic edge to it, a sense of a world lost.

Verdict
Slick, polished and highly entertaining devised show set in 1997

Production Information

Production
Education, Education, Education
Venue
Pleasance Dome
City
Edinburgh
Starts
August 4, 2017
Ends
August 27, 2017
Authors
The Wardrobe Ensemble
Director
Jesse Jones, Helena Middleton
Set
Lucy Sierra
Lighting
Katharine Williams
Sound
Ben Grant
Stage manager
Tanya Stephenson
Production manager
Martin Thompson
Cast includes
Tom Brennan, Tom England, Emily Greenslade, Kerry Lovell, Jesse Meadows, Ben Vardy
Producer
The Wardrobe Ensemble, Royal and Derngate, Shoreditch Town Hall
Running time
1hr 20mins