Previewed 1 September 2015, Opened 10 September 2015, Closed 3 October 2015 at the Old Vic Theatre in London
Matthew Warchus' West End Premiere of Tamsin Oglesby's new play Future Conditional starring Rob Brydon along with a cast of 23 young performers.
Past imperfect. Present tense. When it comes to education, we've all got a lot to learn. Tamsin Oglesby's topical and boisterously funny new play tackles the conundrum of British schooling through a myriad of characters including parents, teachers, and Alia, a prodigiously clever young Afghan refugee and the newest member of Britain's Education Research Board. Alia has a radical solution for Britain's schools that could restore our place in the world education league. But is the system ready to take lessons from a schoolgirl?
The cast features Rob Brydon and 23 young performers. Directed by Matthew Warchus. Rob Brydon's London stage acting credits include Trevor Nunn's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy play A Chorus of Disapproval at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2012. He is scheduled to appear opposite Kenneth Branagh in Sean Foley's English adaptation of Francis Veber's The Painkiller at the Garrick Theatre in 2016.
Matthew Warchus is the new Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre. His recent West End credits include Ira Levin's comedy thriller Deathtrap starring Simon Russell Beale and Jonathan Groff at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2010 and David Mamet's play Speed-the-Plow starring Kevin Spacey, Jeff Goldblum at the Old Vic Theatre in 2008.
When this production opened here at the Old Vic Theatre in September 2015, Michael Billington in the Guardian highlighted that "Matthew Warchus begins an ambitious, eight-play first season at the Old Vic with a real cracker: a contemporary comedy about education by Tamsin Oglesby that, astonishingly, features a cast of 23 and two musicians...The debates will be familiar to many of us. But Oglesby has given them new life in a fast and furious play that crackles with intellectual energy." Paul Taylor in the Independent hailed it being "lively, disputatious, and full of clued-up, irreverent humour. Rob Brydon is the headliner but Warchus's in-the-round production is a vibrant company effort with a large cast who infuse this venerable venue with young blood... Provocative but too caricatured to be A*." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph held that "the piece has relevance, spirit. It also has a finished-on-the-bus quality. It jumps between milieux, the characters are loosely sketched, and there's more than a touch of information overload. Although we see class-war rivalry erupt amusingly at an Education and Equality Commission meeting - between an ex-Etonian advisor and a Scottish charity chief with a huge chip on his shoulder - at other points, the debate drags like double detention... Thanks to Warchus's directorial slickness, the evening makes the grade as a thought-provoking start to the season. Overall, though, I'd whisper: 'Could do better'." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times wrote that "Tasmin Oglesby's kaleidoscopic technique tackles education in-the-round, from those toiling in the thick of it to questions about what education is for... The downside of this broad-brush approach is that nothing gets discussed in depth. The characters too often feel like mouthpieces... It's frustrating. But it's also ambitious, provocative, timely and performed with zest." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail explained that "London's Old Vic Theatre has a new artistic director after the garlanded departure of Kevin Spacey. His successor Matthew Warchus’s first production opened this week and I fear it is a dud: cliched, dramatically untidy, untruthful to the point of dishonesty... Playwright Tamsin Oglesby inveighs against academic selection and independent schools. She does so by giving us four scenarios so frequently chopped and changed that narrative flow is lost and the production starts to resemble a TV sketch show." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard said: "I firmly believe that Matthew Warchus will achieve great things at the Old Vic. But his tenure as artistic director gets off to a shaky start with this clichéd play about education. Tamsin Oglesby has written several distinct sketches rather than an integrated, weighty and satisfying piece... But the play often feels like a lecture. Characters are mouthpieces for ideas, rather than taking on three-dimensional life." Neil Norman in the Daily Express thought that "there are so many characters that they suffer from stereotype-itis, however hard the actors work to bring them to life... As the mother of a teenage boy, Oglesby has evidently weathered the storms of the education system and while there is no denying her robust defence of some kind of equality, her method achieves mixed results. Report: could do better." Ann Treneman in the Times commented "I wouldn't say Future Conditional is grim but it is certainly at times tedious. There are more issues in this play than in the average magazine library... It's exhausting keeping up with the lecture: the man in front of me gave up and just kept checking his phone."
"It is a compendious, entertaining and superbly researched assault on the UK’s divisive education system, it shows how close it comes to farce, how it nudges at tragedy... Joshua McGuire is hilarious as Oliver, an Etonian educationalist with a coercive, switch-on smile. Brian Vernel is first-rate as working-class northern Bill, veering between the abject and the articulate. And Rob Brydon is outstanding as a Welsh teacher with reason to be at the end of his tether but holding on to his ideals... Amy Dawson is zanily touching as Kaye, a working-class mum more besotted with her dog than her son, and Lucy Briggs-Owen’s Hettie is brilliant as an indefensibly defensive middle-class mum. The symmetrical slapstick scenes are hugely enjoyable... Inevitably, there are moments when the play seems over-freighted, ideologically top-heavy. But this is a terrific choice for the launch of a new chapter at the Old Vic." The Observer
"This isn't an evening in the theatre, it's detention. Matthew Warchus opens his tenure at the Old Vic with Tamsin Oglesby's well-meaning snore about education. A heartfelt programme note describes her struggle to find a decent state secondary, but on stage both thoughts and giggles are in short supply. Instead, a comedy about inequality of opportunity emerges as an especially dull edition of You and Yours, quacking on relentlessly with narcoleptic opinions... A large cast dress as schoolkids between scenes, but the only young person with a voice is a keen-brained refugee. As a show about education igniting minds or summing up society, it's not a patch on Warchus's production of Matilda." The Sunday Times
"A blast of fresh air has swept into the fusty Old Vic with Matthew Warchus’s first show as artistic director: a spirited production of a funny, provocative, profound play about the prickly issue of education. Tamsin Oglesby’s play speaks from gruelling first-hand experience as a parent frustrated by a system in which the fight for places at the better state schools can be very ugly... Important, insightful stuff, served up with humour and vitality. A bracing start to Warchus’s new term." The Mail on Sunday
Future Conditional in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 1 September 2015, opened on 10 September 2015 and closed on 3 October 2015.