Juniors take centre stage
Big School became a time machine this week for the Junior School Play, Harold Brighouse's Hobson's Choice.
The audience was taken back to the grimy, industrial tapestry of Lancashire in the 1880s, with the strife and troubles of Hobson's shoe repairers serving as the background to a commentary on many of the problems of the time, yet still interlaced with a rich band of northern humour.
Serious issues, like poor education, poverty and the role of women, are tackled in Brighouse's multi-layered text and the Junior actors more than did justice to its depth. There was a small cast and all of them did the play proud, especially the three central characters.
Callum Watson gave the audience a blustery, battered and finally broken Horatio Hobson, while Max Wildenberg superbly portrayed the gifted, and eventually self-assured, Will Mossop. Superbly in charge of all she surveyed was Emily Oulton as Maggie Hobson, who cajoled and coralled the male characters, moulding them exactly as she wished.
There were excellent debuts from Elise Mather and Omar Said and a measured performance from Jonathan Pollard but the whole company, which included Lyndsey McJarrow, Tim Lazarus, Aiden Smith, Lucy Ward, Zoe Olsen and William Slough, gave a consistent pace and rhythm to the performance, helped in no small way by authentic and secure Lancashire accents.
Once more, it seems, Director, Kim Chandley has unearthed and begun the process of nurturing a rich vein of Junior talent ready to grace the stage in future productions. Technician Rob Anderson, in his first school play, created a superbly versatile and atmospheric design and the stage management team, led by Stephanie Boote, all helped to produce a slick and enjoyable performance.
Towards the end of the play, as Hobson's world crumbled around him, the key message of the play - the power of education - emerged. How appropriate, in a school such as Epsom, to see that although walls may tremble and fall, through education we all have within us the power to build a better and brighter world.