Beloved by generations comedy Daisy Pulls It Off, written 35 years ago by Denise Deegan, almost never leaves London stages and this June comes to Charing Cross Theatre in Guildford School of Acting’s production. Delivered to West End audiences by the first-ever graduates of BA Actor-Musicians, the classic play gets a few unique twists in their interpretation. So, each actor plays a musical instrument from piano and violin to cello and trumpet. Even more, they dance and act with these instruments, making music intervals part of the performance. And it’s not all surprises this production has to offer.
The plot of Daisy Pull It Off is balancing somewhere between Sput, the series of novels by John van de Ruit about boys-only prestigious school in RSA, and the popular teen comedy Wild Child (2008), depicting a rich American girl sent to private girls-only school in the UK as a punishment. In the play, Daisy Meredith, a talented student from a poor background, gets the scholarship to study at a prestigious school, full of wealthy and spoilt girls. She has to find the ways to get along with them, win their trust and make her dreams come true, not missing her only chance for proper education and future success. While all plot turns are quite predictable and you will have a feeling that you’ve already seen it somewhere else, it’s enjoyable and easy-going production. Secret society, mysterious treasure, school pranks, sports games, mischievous classmates, – all these twists don’t let you get tired.
Each girl in the school, and each teacher have clearly defined temper and we get it as soon as they appear on the stage: partly because they step out of the role and comment on their character in the third person but also because they seem to know their characters well and feel confident in how they should behave in any situation. It becomes obvious a few minutes before the show when actors walk along the rows, chat with the guests and each other, playfully offering you some candies or trying a new melody in small groups. The performances of Katy Ellis (Trixie), Lara Lewis (Clare) and Gemma Evans (Monica) were especially impressive, I felt that those are not just types of the girls you expect to meet in any school but rather individuals, each with their own worries and ambitions. Daisy, played by Marina Papadopoulos, seems to be a bit too caricature and generic, however, it does not make her performance less vivid and enjoyable.
Daisy Pull It Off at Charing Cross Theatre is perfect for the whole family, but be cautious, nostalgia for your school years may overtake you. The conclusions of the play may feel too naïve, the social comments – too simplistic, and the psychology of the characters – too superficial, but this production still makes you laugh and brings great musician-actors performances. What else would you expect from a classic comedy production?