Year 5 assembly

We are not amused

By our arts correspondent, Sue Webster

No one remembers quite why Queen Victoria said, ‘We are not amused,’ but it made a fitting title for the verse play enacted by Year 5 in their dramatic assembly on Friday 13th February. Following a class outing to the Ragged School Museum, when they were encouraged to dress in tattered clothes and be lectured by a ruler-swishing schoolmarm, the children in Ms Padel’s class have been continuing their Victorian theme this term by rehearsing roles in Richard Morris’s highly amusing playlet.

Amelia was beautiful in tiara and pink fur stole as the young Queen born to reign over us; Siena and Mabel protested that maids like themselves did all the work in the Empire for little credit; while Mr and Mrs Gradgrind (Nick and Molly) and Swish (Lilliana) were the Dickensian-style schoolteachers who drilled the children in mysterious facts and figures which often made no sense at all.

In short, this half of the assembly was a highly amusing vignette of life in Victorian times, with many references to the hardship and poverty of ordinary folk. It made us laugh, but the social message was clear: children working as chimney sweeps, miners and factory hands had short, sad little lives.

The tone of the second half was pure pleasure. We were transported to a Victorian music hall, where top-hatted compère Eddie introduced an astonishing variety of acts, from somersaulting acrobats and strongmen (Tristan and Jaden), through mime artists Jamie, Barney and Callum, to the ‘Kings of Folly’, aka Fred, Alex and Nabil. The mime drew most laughter from the St.Aidan’s community – it seems nothing is quite so funny as boys falling flat on their faces – but the comic timing shown by the Kings of Folly was surprisingly mature.

As a musical interlude, the girls of the class did the can-can, after which the audience was invited to sing along with such Cockney favourites as ‘Daisy, Daisy’ and ‘Let’s all Go Down the Strand’. This was an exhilarating knees-up (well, it might have been, had we not all been too genteel to rise from our seats) and caused many parents to remark that Indigo Class’s assembly was one of the most entertaining they had ever seen. Keep it up Indigo Class – there’s a chance we could charge an entry fee!