Park Theatre (venue)
08 December 2017 (released)
Denise Dickens play was of course, very funny before the cast got their hands on it. The show had a long run and an Oliver Award when it was first produced in the West End in the early 80’s and has been revived more briefly since. But in today’s post trans-gender world, the story of scholarship girl, Daisy trying to fit into the snobbish establishment in a 1920’s girls boarding school, definitely needed something extra to breathe it back into life.
Cue a wickedly funny cast of actors where age, gender and race are not ignored but thrown in the air and subverted with glee. Like the best clowning, the talented ensemble dare to push the characterisation to its limits, exploring the absurd with extremely silly physical comedy and a warmth that fills the small theatre. If the first half felt a little long, it picked up in the second with a fabulous cliff top scene and a breathless hockey championship!
Pauline McLynn (Mrs Doyle from Father Ted) is ridiculously convincing as Daisy’s best friend Trixie, crying ‘Jubilate! as she swings her satchel round her back and skips off on another jape. Shobna Gulati (Anita from Victoria Woods dinner ladies) nearly chokes on a cream cake while playing snobbish bully Sybil and only has to stagger on stage as Daisy’s mother to get a huge laugh. Lucy Eaton’s Head-teacher is mesmerising as Miss Gibson, the adored head-teacher and Clare Perkins interpretation of Sybill’s Crony, Monica, is inspired. Distinctly off centre with an extraordinary deep voice and dead-pan delivery, she just gets funnier and funnier.
Returning to Denise Dickens original concept of a cast of seven who double up on parts, there is plenty of material for quick changes that go wrong, character confusions and moustaches that come un-stuck. If you don’t laugh at that, there’s always lines like, ‘I’m afraid I shall prove to be the most frightful muff!’ to keep you entertained. Give me Daisy Pulls it Off over a Christmas Panto any day.