JONATHAN Lewis’ second play in his Education, Education, Education trilogy, the Be All And End All is a piece set just before the Referendum vote two years ago, and is wowing audiences at Windsor’s Theatre Royal this week, writes Paul Thomas.

It is about an unprincipled Tory Junior Minister in the Home Office, (Lewis) his cancer-stricken wife, who runs a multi-million blue chip company (Imogen Stubbs) and their wayward son, whose startlingly awful way of dealing with abnormally pushy parental pressure to get the two A stars he needs to get into Trinity College, Cambridge, through his private school and private tutorials, is to self-harm and numb himself with drugs.

What happens to a family when privilege is abused and trust vanishes...when cheating becomes a code to live by and deception a justified means to an end? They have it all – the perfect family life – the perfect future.

Or so it seems.

High achieving, successful, loving parents, they only want the very best for their son. That’s what everyone wants after all... but who’s it really for?

When desire allows you to lose sight of what is morally right, when manipulation takes over, the consequences can be devastating.

Starring Film, TV and Stage actress Imogen Stubbs and Jonathan Guy-Lewis, known for his roles in Soldier Soldier, London’s Burning and Coronation Street, this will have you laughing at some of the blackest humour around – you laugh because it prompts your innate sense of the absurdity of life and you laugh because it’s true.

We all know these kinds of parents, one-up on everyone else, trying to get the jump on others for their offspring’s future.

Lewis as dad Mark, is wonderfully malevolent, Stubbs as wife Charlotte, delicate, yet brutally Tiger Mum at the same time, it’s hard to know who is worse.

Matt Whitchurch as son Tom, however, for me steals the show as the put-upon uni wannabe who is playing his parents for all their worth.

His girlfriend Frida, the incredible Robyn Cara, also turns in a stunning performance of the top grade student with a hideous secret.

Stubbs tells me: “This is a play I feel passionately about because it uncovers the awful truth about our failing education system and the lengths to which certain parents are pushed into drastic measures to get what they want for the children.

“The education system is crippling the children of this country. It’s league table-driven and does not educate our children in the way they should be.

“None of the characters are easy, this family is not virtuous, and the reaction from audiences is different.

“These are stressed, frazzled people and it shows. It is an uncompromising play, hard-hitting and where everyone goes through a heart-rending journey.”

The denouement is earth-shattering.

This is a play not to be missed. You will go home soul-searching and aching to change society, if not the world.

This is the best parody non modern middle-class life today that I have seen.

You could twist a knife into these people and they wouldn’t feel it, they’re that heartless.

The pressures of success, of over-achievement, of sliding up the greasy pole of society, education and cash for favours is all here.

An excellent set reveals how this family lives, the popping of champagne corks and the period music of a few years ago, gives this a callous and contemporary slant of how bad our lives have really become and how we have lost our grasp on reality.

The Be All And End All, Theatre Royal Windsor until Saturday. Box office: 01753 853888 or