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Back to School
Published on Saturday, 25 August 2012
4

4 stars

Pleasance at Braidwood Centre
Comedy
1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23 Aug, 4:00pm-5:30pm; 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26 Aug, 1:30pm-3:00pm, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Reviewed by Lynne Morris

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

Only by ignoring all advice ever issued about getting into cars with strangers, did I make it to this performance. Collecting my ticket from the Pleasance Dome box office meant missing the lollipop lady who collects pupils from the Pleasance Courtyard. Making my own way there with a very badly designed map, I plummeted from delightedly early to frustratingly late after a few simple wrong turns. Two friendly strangers in a van came to my assistance, providing a lift to the school gates – where Mr McIntosh explained that of course, he would have to tell my parents. Oh my.

 
Since leaving school at the turn of the new millennium, I have had no desire whatsoever to return. Or so I thought. But Back to School barely needs to scratch the surface in order to unearth our most childish tendencies: some relatively convincing teachers, an exercise book and a name sticker seem all that is required to set imaginations ablaze, as 90 minutes are spent being put through your paces in this real former school building. Regression to younger selves seemed easier for some, as the more reserved appeared to hold back in fear of the classroom interaction getting more extreme.

Assigned a form group almost immediately, you spend the time moving between lessons around the building. Going through the corridors you may well find yourself adding to the posters on the walls, borrowing things you find as you go, or locking someone in a cupboard. I suspect it depends what kind of school-life you had. Depending on which form you find yourself in, you could study Science, Art, P.E, Sex Education, Music and so on. By the end of the school day you might have regained knowledge from days gone by, learnt a new skill, or perhaps just seen yourself in a new light. This is experiential theatre in which you are as much a part of the show as the actors.

There’s no need to be nervous about your first day back at school – just pack your sense of adventure and be on time for class. This is not theatre designed to shock or force you unwillingly you into new territory. It’s silly, fun, entertaining, and until we get a grip on time travel might be the closest you get to going back to school any time soon. The only part of the school day that dragged a little was ‘lunch time’, although I suspect this was in part because I’d put my bag in my locker so did not have money on hand for a sneaky beer. So here’s the heads-up: don’t forget that in addition to the easy-on-the-eye, thoroughly amusing teaching team, this school has a tuck shop that sells booze.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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