I often find when a play is set in a school it is hard to get to grips with. Firstly, we usually have an actor clearly in their mid-twenties trying to portray a teenager. Secondly, it’s usually written by someone who left school themselves ten or more years ago and the language can often feel out dated, with 90’s phrases like “whatever minger” being tossed to-and- fro. I guess it’s like trying to write a play about living on a canal boat when you’ve never left dry land. The school system, teenage colloquialisms and the process of learning and teaching change so rapidly, it’s hard to stay on the ball. Remedial Remedies manages to avoid all of this and instead gives a us a beautiful, charming and boisterous take on life in a standard British Comprehensive.
Bruce (Joseph Cox), Kevin (Samuel Ranger), Jack (Arian Nik) and Ben (Joshua Akehurst) are retaking English GCSE, hoping to finally get their C grade and write a half decent essay on their set text – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. We journey with them through their intensive week of revision with the ever hopeful Mr Winterdon (Miles Parker) as he tries to keep their exam and himself from crumbling before their eyes.
Moments of beauty echo through the chaos reminding us that teenagers aren’t all mouth, fights and trouble. One of these moments resonates particularly hard at the class show and tell when we get given the smallest glance in to the boy’s home lives, with a stunning performance from Joshua Akehurst as simpleminded Ben. Stereotypes are challenged and you begin to root for these four lads.
You knew these characters at school and many, I’m sure, see themselves in them as well.
Hartnell has captured both the pressure and excitement of growing up and finishing school. His dialogue charges through at 100 miles per hour, making the moments of quiet all the more spectacular. Nothing is forced upon you, no explosive ending or huge dramatic climax. Everything is left to the audience to decide. You take what you want from it and every other line leaves you to answer your own questions (what was Mr Tumnus’s ulterior motive!?). Remedial Remedies is a play that I’m sure will resonate with generations to come and I can only hope we get a chance to see it transfer.
Review by Hugh Roberts
Remedial Remedies looks at how the youth of today are pressured, how the stress of exams and succeeding can affect their overall performance and social life. We follow the story of Bruce, Jack, Kevin and Ben, four students who have failed their English GCSE. It’s the run up to the resit of the exam and they have been placed into a special revision session with a support teacher Mr Winterdon. Each boy deals with the week differently, we see the effects of ADHD and discover more about their relationship with Winterdon, each other and their school, seeing how each boy has a different outlook on the exams and their future life. As the pressure starts to pile on we watch as the cracks begin to appear and see a hopeless Mr Winterdon trying to pave the way to greatness…
After a fantastic reception at our first On The Night we are very proud to now be producing Remedial Remedies as a full production at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre in July!
Kevin- Samuel Ranger
Bruce- Joseph Cox
Jack- Arian Nik
Ben- Joshua Akehurst
Mr Winterdon- Miles Parker