Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Co-edache brings on the laughs 

The Happiest Days of Your Life

The Grange Players

Grange Playhouse, Walsall


THIS John Dighton farce, set after World War II, must have delighted audiences looking for some light relief when peace was restored in shell-shocked Britain.

And judging by the reaction of first-nighters at The Grange the humour is just as welcome in the current climate as it was way back in the 50s.

The story became a hit film starring Alastair Sim and Margaret Rutherford and it has transferred smoothly to the stage, even though the final scenes - hectic as they are - seem a shade too long.

It does, however, prove a very successful start to the players' 61st season, with a splendid cast enjoying the romp as two public schools - one for boys the other for girls - are, through a bureaucratic blunder, billeted together during building shortages, and staff attempt to hide the fact from posh parents, with hilarious results.

Allan Lane and Rachel Waters excel as rival headteachers Godfrey Pond (Hilary Hall School) and Miss Whitchurch (St Swithins). Lane gets it just right as the boys' school boss losing his power to the domineering woman who must be obeyed, while Waters is pure class, barking orders in situations that sometimes smack of St Trinians.

Happy together . . . Allan Lane (headmaster Godfrey Pond), Joe Cryan (senior assistant master Rupert Billings), Phoebe Hooper (St Swithins pupil Barbara Cahoun) and David Thane (assistant master Dick Tassel)


There is also a cracking performance from Joe Cryan, playing loveable gay teacher Rupert Billings (nicknamed Daisy after asking pupils to 'give me your answer, do), trying to fight off the attentions of jolly hockeysticks games mistress, Miss Gossage (nicknamed Sausage), energetically played by Aimee Hall. There's never a dull moment when the amusing pair are together on stage

High marks, too, for David Thane (assistant master Dick Tassel), who wins a bet that there are more than two types of women teachers when Zoe Maisey, playing St Swithins glamorous assistant mistress Joyce Harper, turns up in the Masters' Common Room and there is immediate sexual electricity between the pair.

Then along comes Kerry Frater. He's a real hoot as the grumpy peak-capped school porter and groundsman, Rainbow. Rarely far from the action, he even raises a laugh on the numerous occasions he carries a step ladders past the French windows of the excellent set, designed by play director Dexter Whitehead and Tony Groves, and constructed by Groves, Robert Onions and Sue Groves.

Pupils of the two schools are represented confidently by Phoebe Hooper (Barbara Cahoun) and Harry Gregory (Hopcroft Minor), and the frequently baffled parents are played by David Weller (Rev Edward Peck), Jenny Gough (Mrs Peck), Chris Waters (Edgar Sowter) and Claire Cooper (Mrs Sowter).

As an added treat for the audience, photographs of the cast are included in the programme designed by Paul Viles...but were taken when the adults were themselves at school. A really nice touch.

Produced by Becki Jay, the play  may remind people that schooldays were perhaps the happiest days of their lives!  Tp 22-09-12

Paul Marston 

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