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REVIEW: Hasland Theatre Company pulls it off in end-of-term production

Ann Hawkswood, as Monica Smithers, Rachel Schofield, as Trixie Martin and Lesley Addison, as Daisy Meredith. Photo by Graham Martin.''
Ann Hawkswood, as Monica Smithers, Rachel Schofield, as Trixie Martin and Lesley Addison, as Daisy Meredith. Photo by Graham Martin.''

There is an appropriately end-of-term feel as Hasland Theatre Company brings down the curtain on its 71st season with Daisy Pulls It Off this week.

The jolly japes and scrapes of the girls of Grangewood School make for a highly amusing finale, led by joint directors Sue Godsell and Noeline Wilkins.

Denise Deegan’s comedy sends up the jolly hockey sticks stories of a long-gone era when the young ladies attending educational establishments such as Grangewood thrived on a diet of midnight feasts, tennis, hockey and Latin and were taught to exhibit the virtues of honesty, decency, loyalty and fair play.

Into this privileged world steps Daisy Meredith, the first elementary school pupil to win a Grangewood scholarship, but met by a mixed welcome from girls and staff alike.

Lesley Addison gives her Daisy a stickability which sees her through all the ups and downs of finding her feet in the exalted surroundings, with the cheery comradeship of Trixie Martin (Rachel Schofield).

All is not well at Grangewood, however, with a financial cloud hanging over the school, so when Daisy and Trixie hear of hidden treasure which could save the place, they decide to search for the hoard.

Solving the clues leading to its hiding place isn’t the only challenge Daisy faces. Snooty Sybil Burlington (Olivia Brooks) has it in for the newcomer, summed up in her plummy protest: “Elementary girls are different from us. They’re poor.”

While Daisy’s star rises as she excels at singing, geography and hockey, Sybil plots her downfall with the assistance of the equally posh Monica Smithers, played by Ann Hawkswood, whose expressions and totally toff gestures are a sight to behold.

Among the many funny moments, the most hilarious is a clifftop rescue scene, when Daisy comes to the aid of her two enemies, Monica’s eyes rolling, and her hair wild as she is pulled to safety with all the finesse of a rugby scrum.

Having framed Daisy for a series of misdemeanours which led to her spending time in solitary, Sybil realises the error of her ways and confesses during school assembly.

But having rescued Sybil and Monica, can Daisy pull it off for the school’s finances, too, by finding the treasure?

And will Grangewood overcome their own arch enemies to win the hockey tournament for the first time in years?

The answers are provided by Hasland’s frightfully topping, absolutely capital cast, completed by Frankie Hudson as head girl and captain of sports Clare Beaumont, Leila Hunt, as her deputy Alice Fitzpatrick, Val Davies, as headmistress Miss Gibson, Val Ryan, as schoolgirl Belinda Mathieson and the French teaching Mademoiselle, Niamh Scattergood, as schoolgirl Winnie Irving, Carol Cooper, as Daisy’s mother and also teacher Miss Granville, Imelda Cole, as schoolgirl Doris Johnson, John Belli, as enigmatic geography teacher Mr Scoblowski and Mick McGwyre, as the mysterious gardener who turns out to be someone much more important.

Equally spiffing are the wood-panelled school hall set, designed and built by Andy Aldred, Mick McGwyre, John Belli, Harry Holloway and John Fox, and the gymslip costumes, arranged by Nicky Beard.

Daisy Pulls It Off continues at The Playhouse, Hasland to Saturday night, May 26.