Tom Brown's School Days, The Union Theatre - ★★★ - Until February 2, 2020


Tom Brown's School Days was an enormously popular book when it was published and it created a genre of writing that is echoed in the current cult of Harry Potter. The story shows public school boys experiencing the hardship, bullying and camaraderie of a 'privileged' education in order to learn life values and emerge as great leaders. The notion seemed more than näive after the experience of WW I, but the simple theme of good values honed by the adversity of a harsh educational environment has remained enduring. This version updates the tale to the World War II period, but it also offers a commentary on many current social and political concerns. Bullying has not gone away in the microcosm of our schools nor in the macrocosm of the political arena. Indeed, it seems to have become almost the stock and trade of current politics. Thomas Hughes saw the public school system as a baptism of fire for creating leaders with values and integrity; Phil Wilmott has largely eschewed irony in this production allowing the audience to read the story's simplistic and possibly dangerous message in the light of their own social and political experience. The haze of nostalgia for the 'never was' is captured in the staging and the cast does a fine job of capturing the spirit of the piece, almost luring us into the illusion of Tom Brown's world.

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until February 2, 2020
Tue - Sat: 7:30 pm, Sat & Sun: 2:30 pm
The Union Theatre
Nearest tube: Southwark
http://www.uniontheatre.biz/tom-browns-school-days.html

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