STAGE REVIEW: Admissions - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, June 10 to Saturday, June 16, 2019.

MUM knows what’s best and what is best for her offspring, no matter what he may think. And that’s come hell or high water!

The problem is that mum just happens to be Sherri, the head of admissions at a New Hampshire school - where her husband also works, and as a white Liberal American she is all for positive discrimination and quick to boast when the number of students of colour at their seat of learning increases.

But it’s a form of discrimination which backfires and has her son, husband and herself, not to mention friends, at odds over a crisis at the college and at home.

Joshua Harmon’s astute and absorbing script offers considerable provocation with its subject matter which is very much in evidence on both sides of ‘the pond’ in more modern times.

The family and friends shouting-match confrontations occur when Sherri, wonderfully played by the talented Alex Kingston of ER and Dr Who, learns her son Charlie has his hoped for place at Yale deferred. But his best friend, Perry, has been accepted.

Perry has mixed parentage - a white mother and bi-racial father, and has ticked his classification box as ‘black’.

Charlie, on occasions too loudly played by Ben Edelman, kicks off over this episode of positive discrimination and becomes quite hysterical.

Once toned down Edelman get his message across in all ways - strong and convincing, as was Andrew Woodall as the matter-of-fact father. Pass the hammer to crack this nut…!

Charlie’s parents had hoped powerful positions and financial support would take Charlie to the promised land. They even try to bend the system further. But he eventually rails against this and as the months ago he decides on a course of contrition to expose in a newspaper the advantages traditionally enjoyed by his privileged caste.

Director Danie Aukin, who oversaw the play’s successful run in America, also elicits first rate performances from Sarah Hadland, who plays Sherri’s distressed best friend, Perry’s mum Ginnie, and from Margot Leicester as an ageing Roberta who can’t understand all the fuss over black, white or Hispanic quotas. She’s from way back - clinging on to an era that set personal qualities on the pedestal rather than quotas.

Strong hints of hypocrisy and feelings of entitlement buffet against racial undertones in this excellent satirical drama-cum-comedy.

For America you can also read Britain. But is it all down to the system? The old school attitude where students who head off for prestigious seats of learning have a head start on the majority. It might only apply to a small percentage but in general they emerge into the world to dominate key professions.

So should we feel sorry for the Mason family? Many in their situation might think so but it’s now the way of the world which leaves us to hope that eventually the playing field will be come to be a level one for all.