Reviewed by Kerry Edwards
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was originally a 1961 novel by Muriel Spark and was adapted by Jay Presson Allen into a 1968 Broadway play; a film released in 1969 and a Scottish TV serial that aired in 1978.
Set in 1930s Edinburgh Scotland, six ten-year-old girls are assigned Miss Jean Brodie, self-described as in her prime, as their teacher. Miss Brodie gives her students lessons on art history or her love life and travels instead of the school’s usual curriculum. Under her mentorship, the girls begin to stand out from the rest of the school as distinctively Brodie and she has a certain power over them. The singing teacher Mr Lowther; art master and Roman Catholic Mr Lloyd who is married with six children and Miss Brodie form a love triangle.
Director Linda Edwards did a noble job on NTC’s first drama in a while but the company does old English farces best. The first act didn’t quite have enough passion, the scene changes were a bit slow and there was a bit of back stage noise. Alex Ling’s set design didn’t suit all scenes so a more basic set-up would have been more adaptable and looked better on their small stage. The Scottish music between scene changes was lovely and kept the continuity. Kira O’Brien’s lighting was a bit erratic and the houselights didn’t come up quick enough. Costumes by Cherylene O’Brien, Linda Edwards and Maggie Smith were very appropriate.
The title role was an enormous one with Miss Brodie in most scenes and having the lion’s share of lines. Janet Jauncey handled this task well with only the odd line fluffed, looked the part, had most of the passion needed but not enough modulation in her voice. Sean Flierl as Mr Lloyd; Terry Crowe as Mr Lowther; Emma Bargery as school girl Emma; Loretta Pascale as school girl Monica; and Shellie Squires as school girl Mary McGregor were all note-worthy.