The School Run by Zalie Burrow, Corinna Myron and Saskia Willis. Dir. Corinna Myron. Perf. Rachel Atkins, Zalie Burrow,
Saskia Willis. Wireless Theatre Company (2015). Download from WirelessTheatreCompany.co.uk http://www.wirelesstheatrecompany.co.uk/product/the-school-run/
In my childhood there used to be a television series "Whacko!", starring Jimmy Edwards and Julian Orchard, with
Edwards reprising his role as Professor James Edwards, a drunken, devious, cane-swishing head teacher tyrannizing staff and
students at Chiselbury public school. This was a color remake of a black-and-white series "Whack-O!", originally
broadcast in the late Fifties and early Sixties, which later became a film "Bottoms Up!" (1959). The series was
mildly amusing, with writers Frank Muir and Denis Norden making fun of those public school stories - for example, Frank Richards's
Billy Bunter tales - where the students ran their little cabals, and the teachers exercised their authority through the cane.
As I listened to "The School Run", a series of sketches recorded live, I couldn't help but think of that earlier
series. While there was certainly no caning, many of the comic themes were similar (the incompetent teachers working with
reluctant students, the devious head teachers and staff, and the general atmosphere of pleasant inefficiency that seems particularly
British in tone). The script incorporated contemporary references to Russian oligarchs sending their children to the school
and expecting something in return for their investment, as well as some satirical swipes at neglectful nouveaux riches parents
more concerned with filling their appointments diaries with miscellaneous activities for their children, rather than worrying
about their education.
"The School Run" was mildly amusing, but as I listened to the guffaws of laughter from the audience, I couldn't
help feeling that listeners were somehow excluded from the fun. Perhaps the show might have worked better in live performance,
where the actors' faces could be seen. In purely aural terms, the production contained more satirical misses than hits at
their intended targets.