Ansu Kabia and Matthew Kelly star in Ayub Khan-Din's stage adaptation of To Sir, With Love
The play, directed by Mark Babych, promises era-specific honesty as well as warmed hearts all round
The most famous version of To Sir, With Love is Hollywood’s schmaltzy 1967 version, starring Sidney Poitier as a black American teacher trying to bring order to an unruly class of urban schoolkids in Swinging Sixties London. For this adaptation though, playwright Ayub Khan-Din – whose most significant credits remain his stage and film versions of East is East – has disregarded the cinematic version in favour of ER Braithwaite’s original autobiography and the emerging multiracial milieu of its post-war setting.
‘So much is said by Ricky [the book’s analogue of Braithwaite] about his life growing up as a British colonial subject,’ says Khan-Din. ‘I thought that was a really important theme as well, because how many kids today know about the Empire or even about the Commonwealth? I wasn’t taught about that in school and I think it would go a long way for people to understand why there are Afro-Caribbeans here and Africans here and Indians and Pakistanis, because I don’t think most people do.’
Director Mark Babych’s touring production has already attracted good notices for the performances of both Ansu Kabia in the lead role and Matthew Kelly as the school’s socialist headmaster, in a piece which promises era-specific honesty as well as warmed hearts all round.
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 29 Oct–Sat 2 Nov.