Top marks for Cleo's class rebellion
Right of Entitlement, Albany Theatre, April 29 only
Cleo is a schoolgirl from a Polish background who has been referred to an educational psychologist.
Despite being generally happy at school and from a supportive home background she is rather naughty and full of opinions. She has also been putting herself at risk by writing graffiti on a wall near the railway. The performance lasts for only an hour and shows the interaction between Cleo and her psychologist during her assessment visit. The psychologist is rather taken aback by Cleo’s intelligence especially her ability to answer his questions by returning a question of her own. She had even found an ingenious way of including quotations in her graffiti, the meanings and origins of which cannot be found by Googling. The play is extremely well written and skilfully acted especially by Adrianna Paniak as the feisty Cleo. The drama is very atmospheric and makes effective use of silences for the audience to reflect on what has been said. The script touches on social mobility, class and inequality but at its core is how our education system acts as a barrier to social mobility especially in areas where there are selective secondary schools. The psychologist’s solution is to suggest that he arranges for Cleo to be transferred to a grammar school which she would find more challenging. It is then that he realises the extent of her social conscience in that she refuses and explains that she is angry about the whole system and the inequalities that it helps to perpetuate. The production is both thought provoking and entertaining. As someone from the generation that had to endure the ‘11 plus’ which led to the majority of our children been labelled as failures, I could easily identify with Cleo’s anger at a system designed in the interests of the few but not the many. This was the first performance of the play which is embarking on a nationwide tour – I’m sure it will be well received everywhere it goes.