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New Era Players - Daisy Pulls It Off

17th to 26th June 2021

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Spiffing show at Shaw House

New Era Players: Daisy Pulls it Off. In the grounds of Shaw House from Thursday June 17 to Saturday 19 and 24 - 26

Shaw House provided the perfect backdrop to New Era’s production of Denise Duggan’s jolly ripping yarn Daisy Pulls It Off.

There was a party atmosphere as the audience enjoyed picnics before the play started and thankfully it was a beautiful summer’s evening and quite the contrast to the previous week when the cast stoically continued to perform in the rain.

We are all welcomed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the school by the Headmistress (Suzanne Person) accompanied by her small dog Felicia – a nice touch.

It’s 1927 and Daisy Meredith is the first elementary pupil to win a scholarship to attended the prestigious Grangewood school for girls.

Georgie Gale gives a “topping” performance as the wide eyed innocent and honest Daisy, a joy to watch as she fully embraced the character.

She meets her fellow ‘dormie’ Trixie Martin exuberantly played by Rachel Lashford and they become true chums who both revel in playing tricks. They get into many adventures including illicit midnight feasts and hot water bottle fights. All jolly good fun.

Karen Ashby was Claire Beaumont, the head girl who was adored by the younger girls and Aoife Linton played Alice, the steadfast Irish friend of Claire.

But the school is in financial difficulties and in danger of closing. If only the Beaumont treasure could be found all would be resolved. Daisy and Trixie set up a secret society in a quest to find it.

Snobbish, vindictive Sybil (Pippa Higgins) and her friend Monica (Vikki Goldsmith) are absolutely horrid to Daisy making her life at school a total misery and getting her into trouble at every turn.

Keith Phillips was the enigmatic Russian music teacher and Brian Harrington gave a lovely cameo performance as the mysterious gardener, Mr Thompson who had a surprising revelation to disclose at the end.

There is much to enjoy in this production from the splendid hockey match where the pupils are enthusiastically encouraged to “play up and play the game,” to the daring cliff top rescue of Sybil and Monica by Daisy.

Nicola Johnson as Belinda, Isabella Goldsmith as Diana and Lisa Mounteer-Watson as the eccentric French teacher who also played Winnie gave strong performances.

Adults playing young children can be fraught with difficulties creating stereotypes, but director Lisa Harrington had successfully captured the period and genre with her talented cast. Apparently, there were many rehearsals held on zoom because of the restrictions and of course there was a happy triumphant ending. Jubilate!