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Admissions by Joshua Harmon
10th June 2019 - 15th June 2019
Alex Kingston (ER, Doctor Who) and Sarah Hadland (Miranda) star in this award-winning and bitingly funny new comedy from the writer of acclaimed hit Bad Jews, direct from New York’s Lincoln Center, producers of Oslo.
Sherri is the Head of Admissions at a private school, fighting to diversify the student intake and she wants you to know about it.
When her son is deferred from his university of choice, and his best friend – who ‘ticks more boxes’ – is accepted, Sherri’s personal ambition collides with her progressive values.
Piercing and provocative, Admissions is 90 minutes long, but the debate will take you through the night.
‘Electric. The air crackles with tension’ Daily Mail
‘Astonishing and daring’ The New York Times
‘Smart, hilarious and provocative’ The Hollywood Reporter
★★★★ Time Out New York
★★★★★ The Sunday Times
★★★★ Sunday Express
★★★★ London Theatre
★★★★ Broadway World
Running Time: Approximately 100 minutes, no interval.
Production photos by Johan Persson
Absolutely phenomenal! Blown away by all the performances, so powerful yet very comedic.
Choice Radio Worcester
From the pen of the author of Bad Jews comes another play which features a minority at its core. In fact, make that two as Joshua Harmon's Admissions deftly handles the minority of black students in a college and also the minority of privileged white people who end up in positions of power and, whilst based on the US education system, still has parallels with our own class-ridden society.
Alex Kingston plays Sherri, a college admissions officer who over the past few years has striven to raise the number of black students in their yearly intake as well as in the publication which shows off the college in which they are virtually invisible. And quite successful has she been, in respect of the former at least. She still has a battle on her hands to convince colleague Roberta (Margot Leicester) to up their numbers in the magazine. It is, however, her best friend Ginnie, played by Sarah Hadland, who ultimately poses the bigger issue when her half-cast son gets into Yale when Sherri's equally-talented son Charlie does not...
Cue plenty of family arguments - not really discussions - as 17 year old Charlie decides to forge his own path, questioning his parents motives and the obvious unfairness of the system. And that forces him to square up against his father Bill (Andrew Woodhall) who determinedly dictates how his college fund will be spent. After all, he pays the bills and is unmoved by his son's protests.
Whilst the adults in the show convincingly speak in American accents (Alex Kingston spent a considerable amount of time there after all in NBC's ER), there is one very definite bit of real US acting on show with Charlie being portrayed by the young American Ben Edelman who certainly adds a degree of authenticity, showing Charlie as an emotional and frustrated young man with his own ideals which counter to his parents' and their perceived manipulation of his life and future. And a good part of the script is given over to this angst allowing Edelman a full range of emotions whilst his mother tries to placate him with milk and cookies…
The show raises many issues - ethnicity, class, wealth, education, parental responsibility, offspring independence - which equally apply on this side of the pond. Replace Yale with Oxbridge which, with 1% of all students, nonetheless provides 47% of the Cabinet...
Unusually, the show runs its entire course of 1 hour 40 minutes with no interval and is played out on a single set which represents both the home and office environments. It has some laugh out loud moments too but by the end you get the impression that, in spite of Charlie's undoubted good intentions and desires, nothing much will change and parental influence still counts.
We were not sure what to expect from this play which has been promoted as a comedy. What we did expect was that we would see Alex Kingston on stage, but owing to her "indisposition" the understudy Giselle Wolf took the lead role - and performed very well. As did the rest of the cast in a play that is a word fest covering several sensitive issues in a direct and challenging manner.
Ben Edelman who played the son deserves special mention for delivering the most realistic and impassioned rant I have ever seen on stage. It must have lasted 5 minutes and seemed longer.
The few humourous parts of dialogue were around serious issues like racism, privilege and hypocrisy. Tricky to be funny about such things, but the script did make you think about the rights and wrongs of race and gender targets in education and other walks of life.
Credit to the staff at Malvern Theatre who dealt sympathetically with customers like us who had travelled a long way to see a star who did not show or shine. Pity.
Had there been an interval we would not have returned. Most of the actors did their best although the American accents were strange but the person playing the son was atrocious. I’m not too sure what accent he was going for but it just sounded weird and although full credit to the long, long monologue at the beginning that he remembered fairly well, we couldn’t understand a word he was saying. We went on Wednesday so hopefully he was the understudy that night and the rest of the week was better. Never mind, we will continue to support Malvern Theatre - there has to be the odd dud so you can appreciate the good stuff!
Appalling. Foul language... Mostly shouted.. In some ridiculous unnecessary accent.