★★★★ – What theatre is all about!
Adapted by Ayub Khan-din for Birmingham, To Sir, With Love had its natural charm and appeal to the audience of The Rep. The local, ‘banterous’ fun was well appreciated and received for many laughs were heard in the auditorium. What also impressed me, and I found highly commendable, was the extent to which The Birmingham Rep invested their efforts into nurturing young, new and home-grown talent via The Young Rep Company.
Every young person shone and were utterly convincing in the roles they played, conveying a variety of emotions with much maturity. Charlie Mills who played Denham, stood out for his aggressive demeanour at the start, and the 360 degree turn at the end. His transition from delinquent to amicable was very warming to witness. Alice McGowan portraying Pamela performed with delicateness but fierceness too and, though her part was smaller, Alice really invested her time to move elegantly and speak with natural flair in-line with the character’s traits. Eden Peppercorn, who played Monica, did really well in contributing to the chaos and challenge of Mr Braithwaite’s initial classes. Her subtle change of heart was well developed and endearing too. Phillip Morris, local actor who trained at Birmingham School of Acting, did a sterling job, to the point of gripping the audience all the way through while fully harnessing the moments and challenges in which his character found himself in. Phillip Morris was a star of the play, and I believe this opportunity granted by The Rep will no doubt further his career in the theatre industry.
I really loved the thorny fun had between the characters of Mr Weston and Clinty, played by Matt Crosby and Polly Lister respectively. Polly really embodied the locality of the adaption through her West Midlands accent, and she was much joyful to watch, with exquisite comedic timing. Matt was a treat to watch too, and he must have channelled a teacher he knew, because his portrayal of Mr West really made me, and I’m sure others, reminisce, not very fondly, teachers from our pasts; or for those in the profession, education staff would probably relate too.
Plays are instrumental to teach people their own history. To Sir, With Love did just that. It gave us flavours of the past mixed with contemporary seasoning. It was a feast to be lapped up! Using young talent really made the production special and very memorable, and I hope to see the young actors on stage again soon, as they so deserve it!
Running until 6 May.