Denise Deegan’s jolly 1983 comedy tells the story of plucky schoolgirl Daisy and her battle with the beastly bullies of Grangewood School for Girls in 1927.
Daisy, you see, is a scholarship student – the first scholarship student at public school Grangewood – which means she is poor, and, according to some, of dubious morality. When Daisy enters the upper fourth at Grangewood not only does she have to contend with hockey and tennis, jam and cake, and a total ban on casual hobnobbing with boys, she is also subjected to the hateful actions of Sybil, the school snob who thinks Daisy should return to the Elementary school whence she came.
But things aren’t so frightful. Daisy has the help of her newfound chum Trixie, who proves herself most capital in counteracting Sybil’s perfectly ghastly pranks against Daisy. Prefects and hockey stars Clare and Alice are immensely reasonable, headmistress Miss Gibson is uncommonly topping and Daisy seems to come top of the class in just about everything. Not only that, but Clare’s late grandfather has hidden treasure at Grangewood and it is up to Daisy and Trixie to find it before the Russian music teacher does, thus saving Grangewood, England and the entire Empire from the Bolsheviks. Can they pull it off? And more importantly, can they do so without breaking any school rules?
Of course they get themselves in a beastly funk along the way, but director Nadine Hanwell ensures that the kiddies keep up quite a pace. There is no set to speak of – at times laughably so – nor much in the way of music and lighting, so it is left to the ripping cast to keep things entertaining, which they do with barely more than a bed sheet, a frog and a hockey stick. Lucy Austin makes the perfectly plucky Daisy entirely endearing, despite her talent for everything from singing to poetry, hockey to knot-tying. Rebecca Haigh is immensely jolly as Trixie and Fiona Domenica is most awfully good at being the frightful Sybil.
This transfer from Baron’s Court theatre may not have all the lollipops of a West End show, but, taken in the jolly spirit in which it is intended, Hanwell’s production is nothing short of top hole.