Every Day I Make Greatness Happen review at Hampstead Theatre, London – ‘terrifyingly accurate’
Richard Molloy’s Every Day I Make Greatness Happen terrifyingly captures the trauma of state education. Both for teachers and students.
Designer Lucy Sierra accurately presents an aged, under-loved, government-funded classroom. Seating is raked on either side of the stage – complete with desks, white board, leak and flashing light bulb.
Alisha, Kareem and Iman have all failed their GCSE English. But instead of being ‘thrown out’ they are allowed into Sixth Form to take their AS levels, while retaking the GCSE course which, as Miss Murphy – who is tasked with helping them pass – reminds them, they require for “a job in McDonalds”.
The play touches on themes of mental health, disability (it is implied Iman has dyslexia and autism) and gender, while presenting the difficulties teachers face when navigating the line between health and safety, child protection, and simply trying to get unruly 16-years-olds to gain some much-needed qualifications.
Kareem (Moe Bar-El) is a source of comedic relief – a class clown – while also adding depth. It is implied that each of the students has home-life difficulties, but it would have been interesting to see this developed.
Struggling teacher Miss Murphy (Susan Stanley) has the most depth. A single mum, it is implied she has had mental-health issues. Alisha’s (Sofia Barclay) plot line also carries this theme.
A strong message about the education system’s inability to allow for creativity, and how it brands children as failures early on, is somewhat overdone. But it is so accurate a portrayal of UK secondary schools, that it left me fearing the lunchtime bell.