The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, based on the novel by Muriel Spark, is currently playing at the Ross Valley Players in Marin County with an excellent cast. Itís 1962 in a convent garden where a reporter (Stephen Dietz) is interviewing a nun (Marilyn Krieger Hughes) after her book has hit the bestseller list. Itís not everyday that nuns write best sellers, so the reporter asks Sister Helena if someone provided inspiration for her book. When Sister Helena mentions a teacher she had at The Marcia Blaine School in Scotland in the 1930s, the reporter begins to wonder whether this interview stands a chance of producing a story that wonít put his readers to sleep.

But as the nun carefully unfolds the story of her teacher, Miss Jean Brodie, it becomes more and more evident that this is the kind of story that sells newspapers: full of sex, scandal and political intrigue. Brodie, played by Esther Mulligan, is one of those teachers who has led a colorful life and would rather discuss the intimate details of her history with her students rather than world history. Thereís no question that Brodie is a high-energy teacher that inspires her students, but the inspiration is anything but the status quo traditionally taught at this school.

While the audience canít help but admire Brodie for refusing to turn her students into social robots, we also canít help questioning, along with the schoolís principle, how far should a teacher go to influence young impressionable minds. There are no answers provided in this play but it does a great job stirring up questions about the moral responsibility of the teaching profession.

In addition to Mulligan, Hughes and Dietz, the cast includes the very talented Ben Colteaux as art teacher Teddy Lloyd and one of Brodieís lovers, Ann Ripley as the principle Miss Mackay, Jay Kerzner as the timid music teacher and a wide range of young talent playing the parts of Brodieís students. Director Robert Wilson really took the time to explore all the subtle nuances of this thought-provoking story while preserving its essential ironic and often quite humorous undercurrent.

For tickets or more information call (415) 456-9555 or visit www.rossvalleyplayers.org.

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