Fringe Review: Lord Dismiss Us

Lord Dismiss Us by Glenn Chandler
Lord Dismiss Us by Glenn Chandler

EDINBURGH-BORN Taggart creator Glenn Chandler’s stage adaptation of Michael Campbell’s cult novel Lord Dismiss Us is a sharp, witty and, sadly, still poignant piece of theatre.

* * * * * * / *

Space @ Surgeons Hall

Written around the time of the Wolfenden Report, which recommended the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Lord Dismiss Us is a tender tale of forbidden love.

Set in a quintessential all-male public school, the arrival of a homophobic new headmaster, Philip Crabtree, and his devoutly religious battle-axe wife, brings a new regime determined to stamp out any moral degeneracy, with hilarious, and tragic results.

With an epic performance from Felicity Duncan as the Headmaster’s wife under-pinning the piece, the seven strong cast soar, drawing laughter, gasps, and touching moments of thought-provoking silence as the ‘purge’ of Weatherhill School For Boys reaches its climax.

Matthew McCallion is a stoic John Steele, the head prefect with his sights on a life in the military, while Jonathan Blaydon’s love-spurned Peter Naylor is nicely layered, emotionally.

Joshua Oakes-Rogers’ Terry Carleton narrates the piece with an air of innocent romanticism that is more than counter-balanced by Joe Bence’s knowing and manipulative Nicholas Allen

In a pivotal role, Tom Lloyd plays effete school-master Eric Ashley with a measured determination and delicateness that is endearing.

Doubling as both the boorish Headmaster and affected Rev Cyril Starr David Mullen is on sparkling form. His Alastair Sim-esque school chaplain boasts a warm humour that makes it hard to take your eyes off him.

Such gathered talent is seldom found in a Fringe production, and when given a script the quality of Chandler’s to work with, they fly.

Weatherhill School may be from a different time, but the relationships within are timeless, and the piece remains a microcosm not just of the society of an age gone by, but of many parts of society today.

Until 26 August