(Henry Hitchings's article appeared in the Evening Standard, 2/25.)

A classroom culture clash in The Dead School

The Dead School is a feast of madness — a carnival of quirks, part A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and part Daliesque foray into the backwoods of psychosis. 

Patrick McCabe is a dark and often hilarious chronicler of Irish manners, and this adaptation by him of a novel he published 15 years ago is disorderly, surreal and effervescent.

The two main characters are Raphael Bell, an authoritarian teacher, and Malachy Dudgeon, the small-town boy he recruits to work alongside him. Bell finds Malachy wanting. They fall out. Then, in true McCabe style, madness encroaches.

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