Ealing: Play explores themes of war, adolescence and race


Students in years 10 and 11 at St Benedict's, Ealing, west London, performed Bassett by James Graham, a powerful play which wrestles with conflict and identity. Graham also wrote the smash hits Ink and Labour of Love.

Bassett is set in a classroom in Wotton Bassett. A Citizenship class has been locked in by their teacher who has had enough. Tensions run high as the repatriation of a fallen British soldier - someone who was known to all of them at school before he joined the army - takes place outside along the high street.

In their claustrophobic classroom, the pupils ask many questions about prejudice, patriotism, war, and about themselves, in a world of conflict and upheaval. The action is dominated by Leo, who menaces the class with his strong views. Louis Clow maintained the tension and fury throughout, on his collision course with Lucy (Camilla McCosker), who breaks her sponsored silence to bring the bully down with a shocking revelation. The tension is palpable, relieved by some wonderful comic performances: Spencer (Ben Page), still dutifully facing the wall since the beginning of the lesson, reading aloud from a British Wars time-line; Kelly (Eleanor Harper), all eye-liner and sarcasm, cutting everyone down to size; Russell's sharp commentary (Jake Birrell) on everything from supply teachers to whether it's right to applaud a funeral cortège.

The Director Richard Gee, Drama and English teacher at St Benedict's, said: "I chose Bassett because it felt like the right time to explore its themes of war, adolescence, race and what it means to live in a world of such upheaval. The cast has worked brilliantly, bringing discipline, curiosity and creativity to the rehearsal room."

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