Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

War in the Playground; Theatre

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

War in the Playground; Theatre

Article excerpt

Byline: HENRY HITCHINGS

MOGADISHU Lyric Hammersmith, W6 HENRY HITCHINGS DESPITE the impression that its title gives, Vivienne Franzmann's first play has nothing to do with the Somali capital. But, drawing on her 12 years' experience of teaching, it presents a striking vision of modern education as a war zone.

When black teenager Jason gets in a fight with a younger pupil at his tough London school, liberal teacher Amanda steps in. Jason shoves her to the ground. Knowing something of his troubled background, Amanda refuses to make a fuss. Yet soon enough Jason is claiming that she attacked and racially abused him, and he succeeds in coercing all witnesses into conspiring against her.

What follows is entertaining but also a searing critique of the politics and anxieties that can pollute the attitudes of both teachers and those they teach. Franzmann takes aim at supine administrators and a generation of schoolchildren who brandish an awareness of their rights while giving little thought to their responsibilities. …

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