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Actor 'fell in love' with the wrong teacher

A controversial actor whose previous show was condemned as blasphemous and too sexy for primary pupils is being sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills.

National Theatre actor Tim Crouch's one-man take on A Midsummer Night's Dream offended staff at St Mary's Roman Catholic school, Portslade, East Sussex, when it was staged before nine and 10-year-olds.

In his play, I, Peaseblossom, Mr Crouch joked about "making love" and "coupling", blessed everything from fire extinguishers to puddles of wine, and pretended to fall in love with a member of the audience. It was Year 6 teacher Pauline Grimstone who became the object of his desires.

Mr Crouch, a 40-year-old father of three, currently touring secondary schools with Shopping for Shoes is sponsored by the National Theatre and the DfES. He said: "I fell in love with the wrong person. Miss Grimstone thought her authority had been undermined and I apologise for that."

Peter Atkinson, a governor at St Mary's, said: "Miss Grimstone is not a prude. She just thought the performance was inappropriate in front of that age group. Some people might have been offended by the blessings. It was a little bit near the mark in terms of the playwright's references to making love and approaching one of the teachers in a rather amorous way."

George Hoare, head of Cottesmore St Mary's RC primary, East Sussex, cancelled a performance of the touring play, which finished this week, after being told of the content of the show by Joyce Jones, head of St Mary's, Portslade.

He said: "It was felt that the blessings had a mocking edge to them, and I do not think mocking any religion is acceptable."

Matt Buck 31

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