No matter how long ago they were, you can never shake off your schooldays; fifteen years of oversized uniforms, overzealous teachers, and overcooked vegetables.
No-one really enjoys school (and the ones that do become policemen or politicians), so it tends to make a rich source to tap for plays. Watching it on stage seems to be a safe enough distance for most people to revisit it.
Well, LGBT+ theatre Above The Stag is doing just that this Autumn, with an adaption of Michael Campbell’s novel Lord Dismiss Us. Written 50 years ago in the year that homosexuality was partially decriminalised, it’s set at Weatherhill, an English boys’ public school, which as you can well imagine, is quite the fervent environment for deeply suppressed desires. At the start of the play, the school is rife with unmarried masters and chaplains with dubious interest in youths, as well as the unrequited feelings senior prefect Terry Carleton has for fourth year junior Nicky Allen. However, this is all to change with the arrival of a new head teacher, Phillip Crabtree, and his devoutly religious wife, who both set out to rid Weatherhill of the ‘moral degeneracy’ among the boys.
This new adaption comes from Glenn Chandler, who created Scottish detective drama Taggart and consequently a ubiquitous catchphrase that seems to be the go-to choice for English people wanting to butcher the Scottish dialect. He’s also written and produced a number of other plays as well, including Fanny & Stella, Boys of the Empire, and Killers. His latest work Lord Dismiss Us ran at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, getting rave reviews across the board for its sharp wit and quiet tragedy. At the end of October, it comes to Vauxhall for a three week run. The first week’s tickets have all sold out, so don’t be too late to class!
Lord Dismiss Us is on at Above The Stag Theatre, Arch 17, Miles Street, SW8 1RZ, Previews 25th, 26th October, running until 19th November, tickets £20 from abovethestag.com