Admissions at Richmond Theatre: Review

Photo by Johan Persson

Photo by Johan Persson - Credit: Archant

Intense, brave and provocative, Admissions will have your mind ticking a long while after the curtains close

Considering the recent and ongoing admissions scandal in the US (a number of parents including actress Felicity Huffman have admitted or been accused of paying for their children's test results to be altered to gain a place at their favoured college), the timing of Admissions, an award winning play directed by Daniel Aukin, is rather apt.

Starring Epsom-born Alex Kingston, of ER and Dr Who-fame, and Sarah Hadland, most famous for playing Stevie in Miranda, Admissions will be at Richmond Theatre from Monday 27 May to Saturday 1 June following a three-month stint at London's Trafalgar Studios.

Written by Joshua Harman because he was "looking to engage with questions of identity in a way I hadn't before", the play takes a stark look at ethnicity, class, wealth and education.

"When you are part of the majority, you have fewer reasons to confront your identity than when you live at the margins," says Harman - who is white, Jewish and gay. "In my own life, I straddle both lines, sometimes existing in a world of privilege, sometimes powerless as fellow citizens vote my rights away."

Admissions follows the story of Sherri (Kingston), who is head of admissions at a private school and fighting to diversify the student intake. When her son, Charlie (brilliantly played by Ben Edelman) 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.

Set half in Sherri's school admissions office and half at her home, the play begins with Sherri scrutinising the new admissions brochure to ensure it positively reflects the 'diversity' among the school's pupils. Meanwhile at home, she and her husband Bill (played by Andrew Woodall), are baffled and outraged at her son's failure to gain a place at an Ivy-league college as expected. What follows is a piercing and provocative exploration of what it means to be white - from the privilege and power to the anxiety and guilt.

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While Admissions is tipped as a comedy - and is hilarious at points - it's far from light-hearted, encouraging the audience to confront and debate difficult questions. At 90-minutes long with no interval, the play becomes increasingly intense as Sherri and her family's journey of self-examination deepens.

In writing this play, Harman has ignited a conversation, which in real life is too easily avoided. Long may that conversation continue.

Admissions is at Richmond Theatre from Monday 27 May to Saturday 1 June. Tickets from £13.90. Tel: 0844 871 7651 Web:

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