Shows "O"

ON THE LEVEL A musical in 2 acts by Ronald Millar: Music by Ron Grainer. Saville Theatre, London - 19 April, 1966 (138 perfs) SYNOPSIS This is. a story of today - of perfectly normal parents and their perfectly normal children - caught up in the favourite British academic obstacle race - exams. ACT I The story begins in any examination hall - in fact, in several. But - no gloom, no desperation - because all the candidates know both the questions and the answers beforehand. Children and parents mock the whole examination system. Authority demands an explanation - in the first place, from Clancy Pettinger, the Security Officer in charge of the exam papers. Clancy takes us back nearly a year. He is with his secretary, Kathie Parker at the last night of the Proms. A young stranger faints into her arms; Clancy and Kathie take him back to his flat, where the boy, Joe Whitby, explains that he's desperate with worry about his G.C.E. It's Joe's third attempt; he must pass if he's to fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor. Kathie and Joe realise they are failing in love. Kathie's brother Mike is at school with whiz-kid, Norman Raikes and Eileen Wells. Eileen asks Norman to take her to a club, but he turns her down - she's just a kid. Late one evening after Kathie has left him Joe falls into a troubled sleep - and dreams. In the warehouse where all the exam papers are stored, we find the harrassed Fiona hard at work, surrounded by thousands of question papers. Clancy arrives, followed by Kathie. She's late because she's been up half the night coaching Joe. Clancy realises Joe has taken his place with Kathie - he can only hope to be her friend, as Fiona is his. Later, alone in the warehouse, Kathie steals the first of several question papers to help Joe. At Joe's flat, Kathie and Joe are in high spirits. The pressure's off Joe; gaily he promises to go to Kathie's twentyfirst birthday party. They are joined by Chuck and Marie-Luce. At the party we meet all the kids and their parents. Mike has found out about the stolen papers and blackmails Kathie to keep him in pocket money. But, suddenly, 'the cat is out of the bag'; question papers are passed around from student to student and parent to parent. Kathie, Joe and Clancy can do nothing to stop it. The party rises to a 'rave* climax. ACT II Later the same evening, the kids enjoy the sights of London at night. Inside the discotheque, owned by Howard Motion, one of the parents, the kids and parents discuss with Clancy, Joe and Kathie how to keep the affair of the stolen papers secret. They decide to sit tight and say nothing - but whiz-kid Norman has overheard them. The price of his silence is bribes from parents - and the English paper from Kathie. Not for himself, but for Marie-Luce, whom he's coaching. When the children have left, the parents ruefully sigh for the good old days when they were young. Norman, with the English paper and others, goes to see Marie-Lace, hoping to win her from her American boyfriend, Chuck, But Marie-Luce tells him he's too young. In the morgue where Joe works as an assistant night porter Kathie meets him to give him the stolen papers. Chuck goes to see Marie-Luce and she tells him they can soon marry, because she won't have any trouble passing her exam how - the condition imposed by her father. When Chuck sees the stolen papers, he realises there's big money in them - a whole new industry, and with Chuck in charge the cheating escalates rapidly,