Reviewer: Matt Forrest
Few people can boast the storied career that Gervase Phinn has had; from teacher, lecturer broadcaster, author of academic text, children’s author and of course public speaker. Here is a man who has one of the most impressive C.V’s in all the land. Today we find Phinn in the guise of storyteller as he regales us with tales of his time as a schools inspector.
Phinn take us on a light-hearted journey through some of the situations he has found himself in: ranging from an ambitious yet flawed production of Titanic or the retelling of the Three Little Pigs, complete with an over enthusiastic child. There are a whole host of characters we are introduced to on the way: including; over confident children, shy kids, strict nuns and of course teachers in a blind panic as the Ofsted inspector arrives. Phinn manages to see humour in every situation he encounters, the stories and punch-lines are never at the expensive of others and are always done with respect, never humiliating their subject matter.
In addition, Phinn looks at the use or rather misuse of language especially in advertising, using local newspapers as ideal source material to hilarious affect. What shines through is Phinn’s passion for education and English Language, constantly championing the wonderful job our teachers are doing in what are difficult times for many in the profession. There are a few serious topics covered, ranging from parenting and how not every child is given a fair start in life: however these are not preachy ‘rants’ more a further indication of his drive to see all children reaching their true potential.
Phinn is always engaging, a fascinating raconteur, who makes it seem effortless. It’s less a show, more a trip down the pub with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages, which is very much the strength of the show: regardless of your age, young and old alike these are all stories you can relate to which are delivered in such a friendly easy going manner that you cannot help be swept away and lost in this world of nativity plays and school dinners.
The show ends with a twinge of sadness as Phinn announces that this would be his last show as he is retiring. Well, I for one found my afternoon spent with Mr. Phinn engaging, entertaining but most of all inspirational. If this truly was his final show I’m sure the audience at the Lowry wouldn’t have complained about being given an hours detention if not to hear more tales from Britain’s most famous school inspector. Class dismissed!
Reviewed on 5 February 2017 | Image: Contributed