THEATRE REVIEW: Future Conditional

WORTH A LOOK: ***

WHERE: Old Vic

WHEN: 5/9, previews to 10/9, runs to 3/10

The story at the heart of Future Conditional has similarities to the life of Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Nikki Patel plays Alia, a young Pakistani refugee who is the newest member of Britain’s Education Research Board, with a radical solution for Britain’s schools, to restore the nation’s place in the world education league. She earns an impromptu round of applause as she points out the ridiculousness of the word ‘public’ to describe ‘private’ schools and concludes such language deployment as a reason why Britain will never be in thrall to fundamentalism.

The comedy drama is at its strongest when we are witness to those meetings as they escalate increasingly to chaos with those present arguing over the merits and failings of the current education system with its split between private and public schools.

Also well played are the playground scenes featuring a revolving cast of half a dozen or so mothers who are bonding and bickering over the futures of their children, their aspirations for them and ultimately dealing with the fall out from the differing results of the school application results for their 11-year-olds. There is a real sense here of the comedy and tragedy of the situation. Particularly good is Lucy Briggs-Owen in a near monologue in a coffee shop not allowing another mother to get a word in as she explains her choice for her son.

Subject matter and staging reminded us more of the National than the Old Vic and it’s certainly a reasonable start for new artistic director Matthew Warchus. Rob Brydon was warm and endearing as the inspirational schoolteacher but we were hoping for a touch more charisma from him.

Definitely recommended for teachers – with its strong message about the importance of education.

  • Tickets available from £5 here and by following the venue on Twitter @oldvictheatre.

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