Review: Daisy Pulls It Off, Arts Theatre

“This is a dismal business, isn’t it”

I rather suspect that Daisy Pulls It Off at the Arts Theatre is an old-fashioned a tale as you’ll ever see, it is certainly the one of the most odd. It’s a jolly old hockey sticks boarding school romp with Daisy Meredith, a poor scholarship girl, having to prove herself at Grangewood School for Young Ladies in the face of some absolutely beastly bullies who just don’t like her. It helps of course that she is exceptionally intelligent, plays a mean game of hockey and writes lovely poetry.

There’s some good performances here, Joanne Gale and Emma Scholes as the older girls shone for me, but some really painful ones too. There’s little real connection between the characters, such limited interactions, that it is hard to get much sense of a company here, and it is just unclear what the tone of the piece really is. Is it a spoof? Is it a comedy? Is it a straight-up play? I’m not sure, and I don’t think the actors were either, such was the variance in the way they played their roles. Plus my bete noire of the year so far raised its head again, with Daisy narrating random sections of the play which stilted the rhythm of the piece horribly.

This production started life at the small Baron’s Court theatre and it betrays its roots rather badly: the bare staging is unforgivably exposed and looks far too amateur on the larger stage and there isn’t sufficient quality of performance or humour or anything else to compensate for that. Transferring it seems an odd choice as I’m really not sure who this is aimed at, adults or school parties, it’s hard to tell. And with the ticket prices they are asking (the theatre was barely a fifth full last night), it is hard to recommend it. This is one jolly jape Daisy has failed to pull off I’m afraid.

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes, with an interval
Programme cost: £2.50

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